by Ian D Scofield
Years ago the world was not as interconnected as it now is. People can access the internet and speak with anyone. We can fly from country to country. It isn’t uncommon to work with people from a wide variety of nationalities and cultures. All of this leads to a very diverse world.
Former Police Officer Patrick Marshall resigned from his position at the Port Allen Police Department last November and has moved on to work elsewhere. This last Friday though he filed a lawsuit with the Federal District Court against Port Allen Police Department, more specifically the Police Chief, for making religious counseling mandatory.
Marshall alleges that Chief Brown (PAPD) threatened to discipline him if he did not attend counseling with a department chaplain. In addition to that, he alleges that people who went to the same church as Chief Brown received special treatment. According to the lawsuit Marshall was not formally disciplined but the Chief did remove his privileges for his take-home car and order additional counseling sessions.
All of this has come after light was recently brought on Port Allen Police Department for an abnormally high turnover rate. According to the city, 28 officers have been hired for the small department since January 2013 and since then, 14 of those officers have left or been fired. When the department only has a full-time staff of 16 officers, those numbers are pretty big.
According to the news, Chief Brown believes that Marshall is just upset because he had disciplinary action taken against him. Because the trial hasn’t begun yet and evidence hasn’t been shown this could be true. All people are innocent until proven guilty after all.
Whether or not what Marshall’s lawsuit alleges is true, it brings up a good talking point. Religion in the workplace. We all know we have the right to religious freedom. Any corrective action based on religion is illegal.
Where this becomes interesting is when you have a department chaplain act as a counselor. Police chaplains are supposed to be multi-faith. They are there to serve those who serve our community. Theoretically, that means that no matter what religion you subscribe to, they should be able to counsel you.
This isn’t always true though. Some religions have specific people who are supposed to perform counseling. The number of people who are not religious (atheist) or agnostic is constantly growing. A religious based counselor, even a multi-faith one, can be seen as pushing religion on officers.
In the case of Port Allen, their police department is incredibly small. If officers need a post-incident counselor or a victim needs a counselor, they probably contract out the counseling. Without an in house counselor, mandatory regular counseling could be quite expensive.
Using the chaplain as a counselor could be seen as an inexpensive solution to providing officers someone to talk to. At the same time, you have to ask is it the right solution? Probably not. In such a diverse world the chances that all of your officers will be the same religion is quite small.
Consider department mandated counseling carefully. There are a lot of different aspects to look at and take in. You don’t want to force religion on your officers or you might find yourself the subject of a lawsuit. Alternative options do exist, such as outsourcing counseling.
Stay safe out there.
About The Author:
Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer. At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content. Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.