The California Highway Patrol has officially dissolved their Chaplain program.
This action was announced in on April 25th in the following memo:
To: All Employees
DISSOLLUTION OF CHAPLAIN PROGRAM AND CESSATION OF INVOCATIONS AT OFFICIAL DEPARTMENTAL FUNCTIONS
The purpose of this Management Memorandum is to notify all employees that the departmental Chaplain Program is being dissolved, effective immediately. This dissolution is in response to a recent court case, Michael Cole, et al., v. Andrea Tuttle. Ms. Tuttle was sued in her capacity as the director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CDFFP). In this case, six firefighters went to the federal court seeking an end to the CDFFP Chaplain Program, contenting that it illegally commingled church and state. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the CDFFP Chaplain Program was disbanded and employees of the CDFFP were restricted to providing Chaplain services on a voluntarily basis only.
With the dissolution of the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) Chaplain Program, CHP personnel will no longer act in the official capacities of either departmental Chaplain or Associate Chaplain and the official wearing of religious insignia will not be allowed. However, religious support/counseling services will continue to be available to departmental employees and their families through the CHP’s Pear Support Program, but only upon request and only through the use of internal and external volunteers. CHP employees, who acted as or would have otherwise qualified as departmental Chaplain/Associate Chaplains, can choose to now be included on a volunteer list of chaplains.
For outside volunteer resources, commanders are encouraged to identify a listing of religious local employee support resources within their communities, which could be mad available upon request. Guidelines for identifying community-based volunteer religious resources are being developed and once completed, will be provided to commanders to assist in their selection process.
Counseling and employee support services continue to be available through other programs such as the Employee Assistance Program, Employee Substance Abuse Program, Cancer Survivor Support Group, and Critical Incident Stress Debriefings.
Effective immediately, the Department will also cease the practice of providing invocations at official CHP functions. As an alternative, if appropriate, a moment of silence may be observed at such events.
This information will be incorporated as policy in the next revision to HMP 10.5, Employee Assistance Manual and HPH 10.13, Guide to Employee Death.
Questions regarding this Management Memorandum should be directed to Mr. Carl Lord, Commander, Hiring and Special Projects Section, at (916)375-2160
OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER
DISTRIBUTION: ALLL EMPLOYEES
I find it sad that the both the CHP and the CDF would let this program go with out a fight. Keep in mind the dissolution of the CDF program was conducted “Under the terms of the settlement agreement…”. This means that they did not even go to court.
And to make matters even worse, the CHP program (as far as we know) is not even being challenged. Why are they in such a hurry to get rid of it?
I, for one, find this shameful and plan to call Mr. Lord(916)375-2160 with the CHP and let him know as much. I hope that I am not the only one!
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