By Guy Page
A Montpelier Police Department decision to work with a Baptist volunteer chaplain has been reversed as a result of “conflict within the community,” the Montpelier Police Department said March 12.
The new pastor of a local Baptist church has extensive training and experience in alcohol and substance abuse, mental health/suicide prevention, and military post-deployment readjustment. Montpelier PD has been seeking assistance with interactions between officers and mentally-ill people ever since August 2019, when Mark Johnson, 62, a local man known to have mental illness, was shot and killed by a police officer.
On March 9, the Montpelier Police Department posted on its Facebook page:
“Pastor Peter “Chap” Taraski of the Resurrection Baptist Church will become the Chaplain for the Montpelier Police Department. Chaplains play a vital role in providing spiritual guidance to department members and their families as well as to those in the community who may wish for such services. Chaplain Programs are secular in purpose and do not promote nor inhibit religion: they provide impartial comfort, support, and assurance during crisis events. The program is simply another resource or option where the department can provide care and services to those who may want it. MPD is looking forward to working with our new ‘Chap!’”
Three days later, it became clear that no such ‘working together’ would occur.
The Montpelier PD posted on the same FB page: “Earlier this week, the Montpelier Police Department published a press release announcing that Pastor Peter Taraski had volunteered to work with our staff as a Chaplain focused on providing an additional outlet for our team and their family members to reach out to when dealing with the mental and emotional demands of the profession. In efforts to avoid any further distractions or conflict within the community, Pastor Taraski will no longer serve MPD as a volunteer. I am extraordinarily grateful to him for reaching out and offering his time to our department.”
The latter FB post had 56 comments, only one of which was available to Vermont Daily Chronicle. “Huge loss for the department and the community,” Chris Autry wrote.
Resurrection Baptist Church is located on 144 Elm Street in Montpelier. According to the church website, “Rev. Peter Taraski is a native of New Jersey and has most recently pastored in Sweet Home, Oregon. He says he is ‘nobody special, just a man who loves the Lord.’ He has training in mental health/suicide prevention, alcohol and drug recovery, and post-deployment readjustment. ‘Chap’ began his ministry in Montpelier on October 1.”
Other than the desire “to avoid any further distractions or conflict within the community,” no reason was given by Montpelier PD.
Categories: Police Reports