‘He had nothing to do with it’
The police chief of a Pennsylvania city was reportedly fired earlier this month over his wife’s pro-Donald Trump social media post.
Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace, a Democrat, abruptly announced the retirement of Lancaster Police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser on Oct. 2 — and according to the former head of the local Fraternal Order of Police, Berkihiser’s swift dismissal was punishment for his wife’s support for President Trump.
What are the details?
According to LNP, Berkihiser’s wife, Kristy Berkihiser, had recently explained on Facebook why she is supporting Trump in 2020.
Mrs. Berkihiser was reportedly responding to a friend who had volunteered at a Trump campaign event. According to that friend, Trump spoke highly of law enforcement. In response, Berkihiser wrote, “why im [sic] voting for him again. Same reason as last time… you don’t see him meeting w Jacob Blake’s family or speaking to him by phone…”
That comment was made on Sept. 27. Just five days later, Sorace announced Berkihiser’s sudden retirement at a press conference that lasted less than four minutes and did not include the police chief.
John Fiorill, the former head of the local FOP, told LNP he learned about the details of Berkihiser’s shocking retirement because the chief reached out to the union when Sorace demanded his resignation.
“The irony of this whole thing is, he didn’t make that statement,” Fiorill told the newspaper. “He knows better than to get involved in politics. It was his wife. Where does the mayor have the audacity to request his resignation based on what his wife said? He had nothing to do with it.”
What did Sorace say?
According to LNP, she praised Berkihiser’s tenure as chief:
At the Oct. 2 press conference, Sorace cited some of Berkihiser’s accomplishments, including implementing a department-wide body-camera program, improving the department’s use-of-force policy, creating a community engagement sergeant position, and hiring the city’s first police social worker.
However, she refused to comment further about Berkihiser’s career.
“As it relates to Chief Berkihiser’s retirement, I have nothing further to add beyond my comments last Friday,” Sorace said.
What did the chief say?
Berkihiser called his retirement “unexpected and unplanned” and has declined to comment further.
What is the community doing?
More than 9,000 people have signed a petition demanding Berkihiser be reinstated as Lancaster police chief.
“Please sign this petition if you believe Chief Jarrad Berkihiser was unjustly fired for political reasons in which the Mayor has a responsibility to examine her own biases. Chief Berkihiser should be reinstated as he possesses the compassion, integrity, and deep commitment to Lancaster that is needed for such a time as this,” the petition reads.
Author: Chris Enloe