US News: In a surprising move just hours before the swearing-in of Philadelphia’s new Commissioner Kevin Bethel and Mayor Cherelle Parker, the city’s police department terminated its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) officer, Leslie Marant. The decision, made by Acting Commissioner John M. Stanford, was part of a broader restructuring effort within the department.
While the exact reasons for Marant’s termination remain unclear, sources reveal that the new commissioner, Kevin Bethel, is planning to restructure the department, leading to the elimination of Marant’s role. Marant, who had assumed the position in April 2022 under former Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, was informed of her termination in a meeting on Tuesday.
The DEI officer’s removal comes at a crucial time as the city ushers in its first black mayor, Cherelle Parker, who wasted no time addressing the public safety concerns facing Philadelphia. In her inauguration speech, Mayor Parker declared a public safety emergency, emphasizing her commitment to restoring order and tackling the city’s rising crime rates.
Philadelphia has been grappling with a surge in crime, with over 500 murders reported for two consecutive years. Although homicide rates witnessed a 22% decrease between 2022 and 2023, other violent crimes, including robberies and aggravated assaults with firearms, remain above pre-pandemic levels, according to city crime statistics. Additionally, drug-related fatalities saw an 11% increase in 2022, with more than 1,400 recorded deaths.
Both Mayor Parker and Commissioner Bethel vowed to address the city’s crime wave promptly. Mayor Parker’s executive order directs Commissioner Bethel to collaborate with department heads to devise a comprehensive plan to hire more police officers, reduce violent crime, address quality-of-life offenses, and permanently close pervasive open-air drug markets.
“We’re going to make our city safe for the people who live here, who work here, and who come into our city, from the survivors and from the country and across the world,” Mayor Parker stated emphatically.
Commissioner Bethel echoed this commitment, pledging to restore “law and order humanely and with dignity.” He emphasized the pursuit of those who harm and traumatize neighborhoods across the city.
Despite Marant’s termination, the DEI position will remain open, and the department plans to conduct a national search for her replacement. Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Francis Healy is set to lead the DEI office temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.