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Bethlehem chief wants cop fired

By Meghan Packer, Reporter, MPacker@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 27 2013 09:01:59 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 27 2013 09:45:27 PM CST

The police chief in Bethlehem is calling for the termination of one of his officers.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The police chief in Bethlehem is calling for the termination of one of his officers. Joe Kelly with the city of Bethlehem said the police chief sent a recommendation to city council to have Officer Richard Hoffman removed from his job.

Hoffman has been on paid administrative leave since an off-duty crash in August led to DUI charges. Investigators said he drove drunk, hit parked cars, and flipped his car onto its side with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.

"My rental car was parked on the street and he actually totaled it and I lost my job and everything because of it," said Yolanda Wilson.

"Criminals are given more rights than Officer Hoffman's been given at this point," said Wade Haubert, the president of FOP Star Lodge #20, the union that represents Bethlehem officers. "The police chief wasn't even present to recommend that Officer Hoffman be terminated. He had the deputy chief do it himself, which I found frankly appalling."

"The letter that was sent to council cites several different things, many of which we take issue because number one they're not related to the crash, number two we've got a serious problem with the investigation methods, the scope of the investigation, the individuals doing the investigation and the fact that some of the things weren't event relevant," added Haubert.

Wilson, however, is happy to hear about the chief's recommendation.

"I think they should go ahead with that suggestion and have him removed," she said. "He's an officer of the law. He knows exactly what the rules are of this world and he needs to just follow them."

"We're extremely displeased. This is not a situation where we're trying to say that he should not be held accountable at all for the accident that occurred," said Haubert. "The issue we have is that that incident has basically morphed into a snowballing of several different matters that the police administration looked into to kind of build a case for termination."

Kelly said city council will address the chief's recommendation at its January sixth meeting. Council will have to hold a public hearing and make the final decision.

Haubert said, "All we're looking for is everyone have an open mind and wait to hear all the facts."