York County's DA, police chiefs, clergy condemn attack on US Capitol as one chief says investigation into cop nearly finished
York County's chiefs of police, clergy and district attorney have condemned the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and all violent protests and riots in a letter released Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, Southern Regional Police Chief James Boddington told The York Dispatch that, as a member of the York County Chiefs of Police Association, he is aware of the letter and supports it.
"The investigation of my officer is ongoing and should be concluded shortly," Boddington wrote in a Tuesday-morning email.
The chief last week said his department is investigating whether a Southern Regional officer is the same man quoted in a New York Times report as saying people were ready to "rise up," if ordered.
The officer is on desk duty, and his name has not been released.
The New York Times reported speaking to an off-duty police officer from York County who was in Washington, D.C., the day of the deadly armed insurrection in which rioters stormed the Capitol building.
The man said he and his wife didn't know what would happen that day but that he "felt ready to participate if something were to erupt," according to the newspaper report, which identified the couple by first names only.
"There's a lot of people here willing to take orders," the purported cop was quoted as saying in The New York Times article. "If the orders are given, the people will rise up."
It's unclear whether the supposed officer quoted participated in the storming of the Capitol or committed any crimes.
DA, chiefs, clergy speak out: The letter signed by District Attorney Dave Sunday and others mentions the off-duty officer quoted in The New York Times and states that signers "support the investigation to determine the truthfulness of these reports."
Other signers include the Rev. Bill Kerney, who is president of the county's Black Ministers Association, and Fairview Township Police Chief Jason Loper, who is president of the York County Chiefs of Police Association.
"The participation by any local police officer in violent riots or insurrection would only serve to undermine public confidence in the perceived neutrality of York County police officers," the letter states.
It also states that the York County Chiefs of Police Association and the Black Ministers Association of York County "stand united" in opposing and condemning violent protests and riots "that result in the harm and loss of human life and the senseless destruction and vandalism of property" that happened Jan. 6.
"The rights of freedom of speech and assembly can never justify the evils of violence and anarchy," the letter states.
The letter states it's critical that police officers, as public servants, never conduct themselves in ways "that erode the public confidence in law enforcement," whether publicly or privately, and that York County's municipal police departments have personnel policies that address such conduct and require investigation of violations.
Integrity required: "The policing of our community is a high and noble calling that requires the utmost personal integrity of all of our police officers," the letter states. "The York County Association of Chiefs of Police upholds our commitment that law enforcement officers treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect, or defendant, with the full dignity and respect they deserve as human beings.
"It is our commitment to hold our own law enforcement officers to the highest standards of accountability when they fail to abide by these standards. We hold these principles as the bedrock upon which procedural justice and police legitimacy stand."
Loper told The York Dispatch that the groups released a joint statement, as they did after the high-profile death of George Floyd while in police custody, to ensure the public knew they condemned violence and "to reassure the public that police officers in York County will continue to treat people fairly and professionally despite any possible differences in race, religion or political beliefs."
Loper said there's no room in policing for personal prejudices.
Who was there? The York Dispatch has reached out to nearly every police chief in York County in the wake of the violent insurrection.
With the exception of Boddington, every other chief said either that their officers weren't in Washington that day or that they weren't aware of any of their officers going there.
York County Sheriff Rich Keuerleber on Tuesday responded after more than a week of not returning messages questioning whether any of his deputies or staffers attended the march or participated in the Capitol siege.
The sheriff said he put out a statement on the sheriff's department app about the Jan. 6 insurrection, which he described as a "political event." The statement wasn't on the sheriff's office's Facebook page as of lunchtime and wasn't distributed to the media. Released at 10:37 a.m. Tuesday, it states:
"Sheriff Richard P. Keuerleber does not have any information or knowledge that any of the employees of the York County Sheriff's Office participated in any form of illegal or unethical activities at a recent political event in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021."
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.