According to several sources CMPD has been quietly disbanding the department's long standing volunteer Chaplain Unit.
Chaplains apparently no longer associated with CMPD are Jack Munday, Pastor Daren McGrew, Pastor Bill Fogarty, Rev. Rollo Leimer, Rev. Hugh Foy, and Kristina Franklin. The Rev. Frances Cook remains involved with the Gang of One program. One of the recently dismissed Chaplains had more than 15 years of service with the department.
Above: Jennifer Shelton the widow of slain Charlotte police officer Jeff Shelton is escorted into Calvary Church by Charlotte police Chaplain Bill Fogarty. Photo Credit Charlotte Observer
The reasons the clergy have left CMPD are unclear. But according to one source a dispute arose when Chief Monroe told the Chaplain Unit to open up volunteer applications to new members, specifically to bring aboard a friend of his, Rev. Floretta Watkins.
Rev. Floretta Watkins
Rev. Watkins was unanimously rejected by the Chaplain Unit after they reviewed her application and conducted an in depth interview, but Chief Monroe told the Chaplains they “would” bring her on.
According to one source: "On paper, she's more than qualified. However, she interviewed horribly for the position. Her role as an activist also concerned the chaplain corps deeply. They felt she would not be serving as a chaplain out of a desire to help the officers, but instead would use it as a platform for her activism. She also could not or would not tell the chaplains what her spiritual beliefs were, when she was specifically asked".
It was also noted that she was unprofessional in her interview as well. Ultimately the chaplains were not comfortable with bringing her on board and rejected her application.
According to several sources Folretta Watkins is a well known lesbian minister and a gay rights activist.
If the facts check out, the chaplains told Chief Monroe that they would resign if forced to accept Watkins, in part because their churches would not permit their association in a professional status with a homosexual minister.
While several of the Chaplains routinely minister to the LGBT community they are bound by certain rules of conduct. To many having an openly gay women in their ranks violated their own congregation’s rules of conduct.
When they tried to discuss this quandary with Chief Monroe he, as one source put it "promptly showed them the door".
In all eleven CMPD Chaplains may have been fired or resigned.
The Chaplains Unit has also reportedly seen a sudden and unexplained reduction in their responsibilities. According to sources, Chief Monroe recently informed the unit that they would no longer be dispatched to suicides, homicides, officer involved shootings, or anything else in which CMPD has typically reached out to Chaplains Unit for service.
However according to the source Chief Monroe would permit the Chaplains Unit to assist with officer funerals, weddings, graduations, invocations, and the like but only if formally asked.
CMPD brass has apparently told officers that the Chaplains Unit is to be replaced by the services of the Mecklenburg Mobile Crisis Team.
Mobile Crisis is a not-profit organization funded through Mecklenburg County taxes to provide counseling services on an as needed basis. The paid staff members are referred to clinicians and do not provide spiritual guidance.
About Mobile Crisis from CMPD:
The Mecklenburg Mobile Crisis Team is available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 days/year. Mobile Crisis will either respond in-person or over the telephone. If a face-to-face meeting occurs, it may be in a person’s home, office, school, or other close setting as appropriate. Mobile Crisis services are delivered by qualified professional staff, and are delivered by one or more individual clinicians on the team.
According to one CMPD officer, the chaplains have always been a beneficial part of the department, routinely attending roll calls, and always on scene for homicides, suicides and other major events.
The volunteer chaplains have served the City of Charlotte for decades, not just for the officers but for the community they serve as well.
Many officers that Cedar Posts spoke to are upset that CMPD Chaplains will no longer be allowed at officer-involved shootings, and that instead officers will be given a toll-free number to call.
In the opinion of Cedar Posts, the disbanding of the Police Chaplain Unit has been handled much the same way as the Reserve Officer Unit was last year. Down low and dirty.
Cedar Posts contacted several officials at CMPD regarding the Chaplain Unit, none of our emails or phone calls were returned or responded to.
A Chaplain, to remember:
Perhaps the most beloved Chaplain of any department Father Mychal Judge, a Roman Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, Chaplain Fire Department of New York, and the first recorded victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks.