Lancaster, PA – The Lancaster police chief was forced to retire at the end of September after the mayor took issue with comments his wife made on Facebook in support of President Donald Trump’s re-election.
John Fiorill, a former president of the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), said that Lancaster Police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser was asked to resign on Sept. 30 because his wife had shown support for President Trump when he visited a nearby airport a day earlier.
Now-former Chief Berkihiser’s wife, posting under her own personal Facebook account “Kristy Lynne,” commented on a post made by somebody who was at the Trump campaign rally at Harrisburg International Airport on Sept. 29.
“I can’t begin to explain the energy & enthusiasm in the crowd for our country & for America, and for the President who wants to build on the foundation of the Constitution, honor our forefathers, protect the unborn, respect our military & law enforcement and keep American the land of the FREE & the home of the brave!!” the original poster wrote after attending the airport welcome, along with pictures from the event.
“Awesome,” Chief Berkihiser’s wife commented.
“He spoke so much of law enforcement officers and his respect and thankfulness for them,” the original poster replied to the police chief’s wife.
“Why I’m voting for him again. Same reason as last time… you don’t see him meeting with Jacob Blake’s family and speaking to him by phone…” Kristy Lynne wrote.
The police chief’s wife was referring to a controversial officer-involved shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Jacob Blake was facing charges for sexually assaulting the mother of his children in May when he violated a protective order on Sept. 23 and went to her home in Kenosha.
She called 911 and said Blake wasn’t supposed to be there and that he had taken her car keys.
When police arrived, Blake resisted arrest and fought with officers.
He was shot by a Kenosha police officer after he ignored police commands and reached into his vehicle.
Investigators later said that Blake was in possession of a knife.
Vice Presidential candidate U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) met with Blake’s family on Sept. 7 and told them she was “proud of him” despite the fact he was charged with raping a woman in front of their children.
The former head of the police union told WHTM that those Facebook comments by Chief Berkihiser were all it took for Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace to ask for his resignation.
“This was an unjust situation that he was placed in, a clear violation of his rights,” Fiorill said. “He was advised by the mayor that she wanted his resignation, based on those statements made on Facebook, not by Chief Berkihiser, but by Chief Berkihiser’s wife.”
He said the chief went straight to the FOP for legal guidance and they had him talk to the union’s attorney, WHTM reported.
“He retired under his conditions, not the conditions of the mayor, not a termination. That’s exactly what he wanted to avoid and he wanted to avoid that turmoil,” Fiorill explained.
Fiorill said the mayor’s termination of former Chief Berkihiser was political.
“Which in my opinion is totally unjust and unfair, not only to Jarrad Berkihiser, but it’s an insult to law enforcement officers because Jarred dedicated his life and his career to serving the citizens of Lancaster city,” the former union boss told WHTM.
He said that in the past, the mayor called her police chief “a hidden jewel with in the city” and said he’s disappointed with the way former Chief Berkihiser was treated after so many years of service to the citizens of Lancaster, WGAL reported.
Fiorill said it was the officers and the community who were losing out with the chief’s sudden retirement.
“I know that it’s tearing him apart that he gave so much of himself, that he gave so much of his time for the city of Lancaster that separated him from his family,” Fiorill told WHTM. “For them to treat him like that, I don’t doubt that it’s a heartbreaking and very stressful time for him.”
Sorace refused to comment to the media on the chief’s abrupt resignation, instead citing a confidentiality agreement signed by them both.
She announced on the city’s official Facebook page on Oct. 10 that she would be conducting a search for a new head for the Lancaster City Bureau of Police.