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Lancaster, Pennsylvania mayor says police chief retiring after protests roil city

(Reuters) - The police chief of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who has grappled with protests and calls for reform following an officer-involved shooting last month, is retiring after 26 years on the force, the city’s mayor announced on Friday.

Jarrad Berkihiser’s retirement will be effective Oct. 31, Mayor Danene Sorace told a press conference, without providing any reason for the decision or taking any questions from reporters.

“For now, today is about the chief’s retirement and honoring him and his 26 years of service,” Sorace said.

The move comes less than a month after a police officer shot and killed 27-year-old Ricardo Munoz, sparking protests in the city of about 60,000 people that lasted a few nights.

Police body camera footage from the Sept. 13 incident appeared to show Munoz cursing and running at the officer with a knife in his right hand. The officer shot and killed Munoz, who died at the scene.

Munoz had been out on $1 million bail after being charged with aggravated assault last year, court records showed.

In the wake of the shooting, Sorace had called on the governor and state legislators to work together to come up with better protocols for responding to 911 calls involving people who may have mental health issues.

On Friday, Sorace said she and Berkihiser had over the years worked together on steps to improve the police force, including reforming its use of force policy, implementing de-escalation training and hiring its first social worker.

A spokesman for the Lancaster County district attorney’s office said an investigation into whether the police officer’s use of force was justified was ongoing.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by David Gregorio