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Who will lead Bethlehem police? Looking at 2 inside candidates

The Bethlehem Police Department’s line of succession is solid if Mayor Bob Donchez chooses to promote from within when naming a new police chief, recently retired Chief Mark DiLuzio said Friday.

DiLuzio stepped aside this week during a dispute about a racially insensitive Facebook post that he shared with his friends on the social media platform.

Deputy Chief Scott Meixell was named interim chief, but Donchez could not immediately be reached to learn about his search plan.

“Scott will make a good chief,” DiLuzio said. “… He’s an excellent deputy chief. Personally I think he’s a good choice.”

Meixell’s been on the department for more than 17 years and “worked well independently, always did his assignments and is good in the community,” DiLuzio said.

Meixell didn’t immediately return a phone message from lehighvalleylive.com seeking an interview.

Meixell understands the issues facing the department and he’s approachable, DiLuzio said.

Dan and Scott Meixell

Deputy Commissioner Daniel Meixell, left, pins badge onto his son, Scott, as the younger man is sworn in as a new officer.lehighvalleylive.com file photo

The son of former Deputy Commissioner Daniel Meixell, Scott Meixell grew up in the area.

He has come up through the ranks, serving as a patrolman, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and deputy chief. When Bethlehem reconstituted its Emergency Response Team and crisis negotiation group following the disastrous killing of John Hirko in 1997, Meixell was a key part of the effort, colleagues said.

He worked the night shift as a lieutenant before returning to days prior to his promotion to captain.

He spent much of the latter part of his career working in professional standards.

But DiLuzio said the captain of professional standards is part of a trio with the chief and deputy chief when it comes to effectively running the department.

Michelle Kott promotion

Newly promoted Bethlehem police Lt. Michelle Kott poses in 2017 with her family as Chief Mark DiLuzio, right, and Mayor Bob Donchez, second from right, look on during a promotion and swearing-in ceremony in Town Hall.lehighvalleylive.com file photo

If Donchez doesn’t choose Meixell, he could look to Capt. Michelle Kott, who worked with the former chief as a detective and detective sergeant in criminal investigations before becoming captain in professional standards. The PhD would be the department’s first female chief.

DiLuzio says she’s done outstanding work in professional standards.

That area deals with accreditation as well as training, equipment, body cameras, dash cams and Right to Know requests.

While it’s likely the city will announce a nationwide search, it has “historically stayed within its ranks,” DiLuzio said. “You know Bethlehem, how to run it, where everything’s at.”

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Tony Rhodin may be reached at arhodin@lehighvalleylive.com.

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