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Taser incident at camp triggers indignation

Aug. 09, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Normally, I would never take a news article per se and make it the subject of a column; however, an item which appeared in The Herald-Dispatch on Monday, Aug. 5, is an exception. The article was titled "Putnam deputy resigns following Taser incident."

According to the county sheriff, "the deputy used the device on several teenagers at the [church] camp. The deputy was off duty and was serving as a camp counselor and pastor."

Frankly, the article made me furious on several levels.

First, the idea that a deputy of this man's caliber would be serving as a "camp counselor and pastor" and would have in his possession at the camp a "personal" Taser is patently despicable!

Second, why was a person of this temperament and obvious lack of good judgment serving as a "counselor" at a youth church camp?

People who send their children to a church camp should have the assurance that they are putting their children in the hands of persons of the highest competence and integrity. I admit that one might assume that a local deputy sheriff would fit the "highest competence and integrity" label, but obviously, in this case, someone didn't do the proper vetting. The records of all adults working with children in our church are checked to ensure they are qualified and present no security risks.

Third, unless the incident involved a demonstration of the effects of the Taser (and apparently it did not), the very idea that there would be any question about charges being filed is repugnant to my sensibilities.

At the least, such an incident should merit charges of assault.

No child at a church camp, or anywhere else for that matter, should be abused in this manner.

But, worst of all, the article indicates that this unnamed deputy was serving as the camp "pastor." I have served as a camp pastor, and camp pastors are charged with providing spiritual guidance and training. Campers may go to the camp pastor in any variety of circumstances and expect understanding, direction, caring, concern and confidentiality.

The camp pastor leads in vespers and worship services and sets an example of moral and spiritual behavior. He/she is looked up to as a very special, respected individual at any camp.

The behavior of this individual is contemptible and shameful!

Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.

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