Jason D. Schiffer, the former chief of the Bethlehem Police Department and current trial lawyer with a local firm, has been named the new chief of the Lehigh University Police Department. Schiffer will officially start on Jan. 2, 2018 and will transition into his new role with the assistance of outgoing Chief Ed Shupp, who is retiring after nearly 40 years with the LUPD.
Schiffer said he is excited to join Lehigh, which has been a significant part of his family’s life for many years.
“This feels like a homecoming for me,” he said. “My wife is a proud Lehigh chemical engineer, ‘94, so we know first-hand the exceptional education provided by the university and the unlimited opportunities a Lehigh education provides. I also spent a large portion of my Bethlehem police career as a community police bike officer in South Bethlehem, working together with the excellent professionals at the Lehigh University Police Department to provide and maintain a safe environment for students, faculty, staff, and the community, both on and off campus.”
In addition to participating as a Lehigh athletics fan for many years, Schiffer was the chief of police for the Bethlehem PD when he said the campus community “safely celebrated the 2012 Lehigh Men’s basketball team win over Duke.”
He said, “it will be a pleasure to work with the students and the many stakeholders in the community to continue Lehigh’s commitment to excellence. It is an honor to serve in this position, and I realize that there are big shoes to fill. I am looking forward to a smooth transition and listening to input from the many voices which make Lehigh so great.”
Vice President of Finance and Administration Pat Johnson, who oversees the LUPD, said that the university conducted a national search to fill this role.
“We met a number of very impressive candidates,” she said, “but we feel confident that we found the right person to take on what is an increasing challenging role on college campuses across the country. Jason brings not only a deep understanding of demands of this job, but an expanded perspective based on his years with the Bethlehem Police Department and his training and experience as an attorney. I look forward to working him on his efforts to uphold the standard of professionalism we’ve come to expect from the LUPD.”
Schiffer started his law enforcement career as an officer with the Bethlehem Police Department in 1994 and served as sergeant, lieutenant and deputy chief of police before being named chief of the BPD in 2011. In that role, he supervised daily operations of 150 sworn police officers and 80 civilian employees, and collaborated on a regular basis with the mayor, the city’s legal bureau, City Council members and other department managers to develop departmental strategies and address personnel and community concerns.
Since 2013, he has been a trial attorney with the Bethlehem-based firm of Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo, P.C., specializing in litigating civil rights matters and representing injured clients. He also serves as pro bono legal counsel for the Friends of the Bethlehem Mounted Police and the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation, as well as for low-income residents of northeastern Pennsylvania through North Penn Legal Services.
He is a licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania and the District of New Jersey. Schiffer is a member of the state, Northampton and Lehigh County Bar Associations, and is a certified instructor with the International Police Mountain Bike Association and the League of American Bicyclists.
A 1999 magna cum laude graduate of DeSales University with a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice, he graduated from the Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2008.
Johnson thanked the members of the search committee, which was led by Associate Vice President for Human Resources Chris Halliday and Deputy General Counsel Heather Hosfeld. Additional members were Liz Miller Coleman, assistant to the LUPD chief; Ricardo Hall, vice provost for Student Affairs, Linda Harbrecht, director of communications for the university; Matt Rothberg, president of the Student Senate; and Erik Walker, chief of staff for Lehigh President John Simon. Administrative support was provided by Janice Stoudt, executive assistant for Johnson.