Grant to establish award in honor of late Bethlehem mayor issued
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]
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.