Published September 10. 2020 02:45PM
Bethlehem’s police chief, Mark DiLuzio, who was embroiled last week in a major controversy over a reposted meme on Facebook, has retired, effective immediately.
The abrupt about-face came just days after DiLuzio apologized profusely about reposting a meme that appeared to mock National Basketball Association players who chose not to play several games in support of Black Lives Matter supporters protesting the death of a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
DiLuzio has been a strong supporter of efforts in the Christmas City to bring members of the Black community and other city stakeholders together to form a working group to improve race relations in the Lehigh Valley’s second-largest city.
The stunning turn of events shows again that public officials have virtually no wiggle room once they commit a serious error of judgment, regardless of their past record or expressions of regret for their actions. DiLuzio claimed he did not see the appended comment, and once he was made aware of it he deleted the repost.
In announcing DiLuzio’s retirement decision, Mayor Robert Donchez released this statement: “The United States is in the midst of a national discourse on important issues of systemic racism, police conduct and social injustice. The city has been actively engaged with citizens and groups to deal with these numerous and complex issues.
“Chief DiLuzio has been an important representative of the city in this effort. The credibility and effectiveness of leadership in government is always paramount. These are times when those qualities are critical to managing the numerous challenges we are facing.
This has happened at a time when the citizens of Bethlehem justly expect the effectiveness of their chief of police to be beyond reproach.”
Donchez also said that DiLuzio, who has been chief for the last six years and on the force for more than 30 years, has come to understand that his “standing in the community has been compromised.”
The meme in question is a satire of a scene from the movie “Jurassic Park,” but the image of Los Angeles Lakers basketball superstar LeBron James is superimposed on the body of a character to suggest that there was no interest by the public in the decision by NBA players and other professional athletes to refuse to participate in several games.
A remark appended at the bottom of the cartoon by the original sender said, “I just saved a bunch of money by canceling my sports package … and I don’t have to hear all the racist, anti-white, complaining, leftist, divisive hatred from a bunch of multimillionaire spoiled little brats.”
Mayor Donchez said that he has named Deputy Chief Scott Meixell, a 17-year veteran of the police force, as interim police chief.
By Bruce Frassinelli | firstname.lastname@example.org