Myrtle Beach police hope clergy can bridge gap between neighbors, officers


MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Local clergy members are coming together to assist Myrtle Beach police officers at the scene.

The goal of the Clergy Action team, or CAT, is to bring together people who the community trusts the most.

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall said the faith community is “the eyes and ears out there.” It’s a community that has brought a city together during the worst of situations.

“With the faith community working in Charleston, working with the police departments, and working with communities, I think that’s why you didn’t see no major incidents after what happened with the Charleston nine,” said Timothy McCray, a chaplain for Coastal Carolina University. “You see people coming together, uniting. So what this program is going to do is in case something like that happens, we are already in place.”

McCray brought his idea to not only Gall, but other local police chiefs.

“We need them on board, and I’m not saying we need them on our side,” Gall said. “We need them on the community’s side, the entire community,” Chief Gall said.

Monday afternoon’s meeting started with a back and forth between police chaplains from all over the area, faith leaders, and police officers and investigators.

“Not everybody understands why we have to make some of the decisions we have to make,” Gall said.

To reach that understanding, the group was shown real videos of officers responding to what seemed to be the easiest of calls.

One clip showed dash-cam video from a police cruiser and demonstrated what it was like to go from a traffic stop that appeared to involve drunk driving, to shots fired.

From there, the group was taken into training so everyone could be placed in an officer’s shoes to see how they would react.

Of all the lessons learned Monday, one was clear; it’s not as cut and dry as some may think.

With this understanding, CAT members will be able to help bring officers together with, for instance, a family going through a highly emotional time at the scene of a crime.

“(This is) to help them understand their role and a little bit about our role, so they can mediate between the community and the police department,” Gall said.

This is not a police-led operation, but is instead made up entirely up clergy members said they are excited to bring what they’ve learned into both churches and the community.

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