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BETHLEHEM COUNCIL-Kott is in; DiLuzio and gun are gone

By a unanimous vote, Bethlehem City Council approved the appointment of Michelle Kott to the position of police chief Oct. 6. Kott, a 16-year veteran with the Bethlehem Police Department, was selected from the ranks after a search that also considered well-respected Edgardo Colon, a retired Pa. State Police officer and former police chief for Upper Macungie Township.

Chief Kott is the first woman to be named to the post. She was also the first female to be named to the rank of captain in the Bethlehem Police Department.

Kott said she wants “to build equity and legitimacy. Our officers want to get out into the community.”

Kott had strong support from the City Council members.

“She is a great fit - well qualified,” said Councilwoman Grace Crampsie Smith. “People want to be heard. People want to be respected.”

“I’m very proud, honored [to vote for Kott],” said Councilwoman Olga Negron.

“I will be supporting her proudly,” said Councilman William Reynolds.

“I totally support your [nomination],” said Councilman Bryan Callahan.

“We look forward to working with you,” said Councilman Adam Waldron.

Council unanimously disapproved a proposed zoning map amendment that would have allowed developer Abe Atiyeh’s plan to build a retirement home on the 100-year flood plain of Saucon Creek. The location, 2105 Creek Road, is on 10 acres just off Friedensville Road fronting on Saucon Creek.

Council President Adam Waldron set the tone when he said he would support the recommendations of both the Bethlehem City Planning Commission and the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission to disapprove of the plan.

In other business during an otherwise routine approval of a sale of an issued pistol to retiring former Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio, emotions began to heat up when Councilwoman Olga Negron questioned the practice of selling issued pistols to retiring police officers.

“What is the cost of a gun?” asked Negron. “What is the life of a gun? Have we ever denied a purchase of a gun by a retiring police officer?”

She was talking about a resolution to sell former Chief DiLuzio his city-issued 9-millimeter Glock Model 19 for $300, which is common practice when a Bethlehem police officer retires.

The resolution specifies, “if council estimates the sale value to be less than $1,000, council may sell the property, in whole or in part, for the best price or prices obtainable.”

On a popular gun dealer’s website such a pistol is listed for from $358 to $476.

Negron voted to approved the transfer of the pistol to DiLuzio, but not before Councilman Bryan Callahan took umbrage with her.

“It’s disgusting that you would bring this up at a time when he [DiLuzio] is leaving,” said Callahan.