Grant to es­tab­lish award in honor of late Bethlehem mayor is­sued

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Kayla Dwyer

The late Bethlehem Mayor Gordon B. Mowrer was known to ride along with po­lice on oc­ca­sion dur­ing his ten­ure in the 1970s — if not in an ac­tual po­lice ve­hi­cle, then in his own black Pon­tiac sta­tion wagon equipped with a po­lice ra­dio, one spot­light and a siren.

Folk­lore says he would some­times par­tic­i­pate in ar­rests, Northamp­ton County District At­tor­ney John Mor­ganelli re­called Mon­day as Mowrer’s fam­ily chuck­led.

“He was not afraid to use that siren,” son Ge­orge Mowrer said. “Usu­ally it was on a bi­cy­clist who went through a red light.”

Mowrer, who died in 2016, was a staunch ad­vo­cate of com­mu­nity polic­ing. Mor­ganelli, who vol­un­teered for Mowrer’s cam­paign as a 14-year-old, said he wanted to honor that be­fore leav­ing of­fice in three months.

On Mon­day, his of­fice pre­sented a $2,000 gift to Bethlehem’s Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice, which will start a fund to honor one Bethlehem po­lice of­fi­cer each year for their con­tri­bu­tion to com­mu­nity polic­ing with the Gordon Mowrer Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Award.

That of­fi­cer will select a char­ity to be a re­cip­i­ent of the award money.

“Com­mu­nity polic­ing is a term that’s of­ten cited but not al­ways un­der­stood, even by law en­force­ment our­selves,” FOP Pres­i­dent Bill Audelo said at Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence.

Un­der Mowrer, Bethlehem be­came the first Penn­syl­va­nia city to adopt a sys­tem of “team polic­ing,” in which the depart­ment di­vided into three teams that han­dled dif­fer­ent ge­o­graphic sec­tions of the city, Mor­ganelli said.

The idea, he said, is that of­fi­cers would bet­ter be able to get to know their con­stituents, and build bet­ter trust and re­duce crime.

It’s an idea that has gone by dif­fer­ent names over time, Bethlehem po­lice Chief Mark DiLuzio said, in­clud­ing neigh­bor­hood polic­ing, team polic­ing and com­mu­nity polic­ing.

But the con­cept lives on in Bethlehem to­day, he said, through walk­ing beats, sub­sta­tions, the mounted and bike pro­grams, and through a con­tin­ued ef­fort to as­sign the same of­fi­cers to the same dis­tricts.

It’s know­ing peo­ple, busi­ness own­ers, even crim­i­nal of­fend­ers on a first-name ba­sis, DiLuzio said.

That con­sis­tency is what is nec­es­sary to ef­fect change in crime, Audelo said.

“The heart of com­mu­nity polic­ing is rec­og­niz­ing not just the crim­i­nal acts af­fect­ing a com­mu­nity but the un­der­ly­ing causes and symp­toms that cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment for the of­fender,” he said.

The FOP will man­age the award and its an­nual fund­ing.

Morn­ing Call re­porter Kayla Dwyer can be reached at 610-8206554 or at kd­[email protected]

KAYLA DWYER//KAYLA DWYER/THE MORN­ING CALL

Northamp­ton County DA John Mor­ganelli is gift­ing the Bethlehem FOP $2,000 to start an an­nual award for com­mu­nity polic­ing in honor of the late Bethlehem Mayor Gordon Mowrer, who es­tab­lished the city’s first neigh­bor­hood polic­ing pro­gram. Mor­ganelli is pic­tured with the fam­ily of Mowrer, son Ge­orge and wife Mary.

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