Philadelphia’s police department fired its first diversity, equity and inclusion officer — just hours before a new commissioner and mayor took office promising to restore “lawfulness.”
Leslie Marant, who began her job in April 2022, was axed at a 10:30 a.m. meeting Tuesday in one of the final moves by then-acting police Commissioner John Stanford, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Stanford told Marant, 57, that his replacement as commissioner, Kevin Bethel, would be restructuring the department and no longer needed her services, a source familiar with the discussion told the Inquirer.
It is unclear exactly what led to the firing of Marant, who earned a base salary of $170,568, online records show. The department did not immediately respond to requests for more detail Thursday.
However, the DEI position will remain open and the department intends to launch a national search for Marant’s replacement, a spokesperson said.
“Under new leadership, restructuring and realignment of an organization is common,” police spokesman Sgt. Eric Gripp told the Inquirer.
“We want to express our sincere gratitude to Ms. Marant for her dedicated work and professionalism during her time with the PPD.”
Marant, a former chief counsel to the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission with no prior law enforcement experience, was hired under former police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.
Her ouster Tuesday came just hours before Democrat Cherelle Parker became the city’s first black mayor — and signed an executive order declaring a public safety emergency.
“I want the world to know that I am fully committed to ending this sense of lawlessness and bringing order back to our city and a sense of lawfulness,” she said in her speech, according to Fox News.
The city has been struggling with crime in recent months, as it saw more than 500 murders for two years in a row.
Homicide rates dropped 22% between 2022 and 2023, but violent crimes like robberies and aggravated assaults with guns remain above the pre-pandemic levels, city crime statistics show.
More than 1,400 people also died from drug overdoses in 2022, an 11% increase from the previous recorded high the year before.
Her emergency order directs new Commissioner Bethel to work with city department heads to develop a plan to help hire more police officers, reduce violent crime, quash quality-of-life offenses and “permanently shut down all pervasive open-air drug markets.”
“We are going to expeditiously get every available resource into the neighborhoods struggling from the scourges of crime, gun violence, drugs and addiction,” Parker said in her speech.
“If somebody tells you, ‘We think she lacks compassion because she wants to be too aggressive in cleaning up the open-air drug market,’ you tell them to think about whether or not they would want their mother, father, sister, brother, loved one on the streets openly using intravenous drugs,” she added.
“We’re gonna 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.”
Parker, who has previously embraced the use of stop and frisk and suggested bringing in the National Guard to clean up open-air drug markets, also said police officers will be deployed “as guardians and not warriors, getting to know the people they are sworn to protect and serve.”
Commissioner Bethel also vowed to restore “law and order humanely and with dignity.
“We will pursue those who harm and traumatize our neighborhoods across the city,” he said.