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City of Bethlehem Creates Community Advisory Board
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BETHLEHEM, Pa. (WLVT) - After hundreds rallied outside City Hall last month to demand racial justice and police reform, the City of Bethlehem is taking action with the creation of a community advisory board.

"I've been here all my life. I think it's time for us to come together, sit at the table, and come to an agreement on how we can make life a little better," said Esthler Lee, president of the Bethlehem unit of the NAACP.

Lee approached Mayor Bob Donchez about organizing the advisory board, as recommended by members of the national NAACP board.

Protests in Bethlehem have been peaceful and passionate, holding law enforcement accountable for how police interact with the public. Donchez said Bethlehem’s police department is "one of the finest" in Pennsylvania, receiving both state and national accreditation.

"They also follow best practices and current case law with regard to training and education," he said in a press conference Monday. "Does this mean that the policies and practices are above review? No. There is always room for self-reflection and to critique oneself and for improvement."

"Many people, I think, just need to know what we do," said Bethlehem police chief Mark DiLuzio, "and this is a chance -- the advisory board -- to educate the public and also the public to educate us on how we're doing our job."

DiLuizio said his department reviews its policy standards every year and recently publicized its "use of force" protocols.

"We released a set of eight or nine standards that many departments around the country don't have," he explained. "We've already had [them] for years."

The 21-member advisory board represents several sections of the community. It includes elected officials from the city, county and state. It also has members from the faith community, the Latino community, and local youth. The health department and emergency shelter are involved, as well as police and teacher unions.

Bethlehem Area School District superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy said the board is well-represented.

"This isn't just about policing," he said, "because you can't talk about issues of racism without also looking at housing discrimination, housing segregation, employment, education, health care, and all the other pieces that go into it."

"Our desire is to initiate immediate change by encouraging transparency, accountability and effective communication that will stabilize the climate of the Bethlehem community and adjacent communities which are needed in these tumultuous times," Lee said.

"It's always a good point to have a dialogue," Donchez added. "That's the most important -- to reach out, have discussions, have a dialogue. We may not always agree, but hopefully we'll agree most of the time, and that's always been our tradition here in Bethlehem."

The board expects to meet monthly. The next meeting is set for Monday, July 13.

Here is the full list of members on the community advisory board:

  • Robert Donchez, Mayor of Bethlehem
  • Esther Lee, President, Bethlehem NAACP
  • Lamont McClure, Northampton County Executive
  • Steve Samuelson, PA State Representative
  • Michael Colon, Bethlehem City Councilmember
  • Grace Crampsie-Smith, Bethlehem City Councilmember
  • Tomacene Nickens, Bethlehem NAACP
  • Rabbi Sholomo Levy, Bethlehem NAACP
  • Carl Nelson, Bethlehem NAACP
  • Rabbi Michael Singer, Congregation Brith Shalom
  • Canon Dale Grandfield, St. Paul's Episcopal Church
  • Dr. Joseph Roy, Superintendent, Bethlehem Area School District
  • Kristen Wenrich, Bethlehem Health Department
  • Bob Rapp, Bethlehem Emergency Shelter
  • Cesar Cordova, Latino Advisor
  • Spencer Williams, Youth Member
  • Sydney Duffy, Youth Member
  • Chief Mark DiLuzio, Bethlehem Police Department
  • Bill Audelo, Police Union President
  • Laura Keding, Teachers Union President
  • Alex Karras, Chief of Staff to Mayor Donchez