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Township Police Reaffirm Their ‘Oath Of Honor’

Township police officers mustered in front of the Public Safety Building on June 16 to publicly reaffirm their Oath of Honor to the community.

The officers also heard from a number of the township’s faith leaders, all of whom expressed their support for the FTPD and offered their services if needed.

The event comes during a time when police and community relations in cities and town across the country have been strained to the breaking point in the wake of a Minneapolis, Minn. officer kneeling on the neck of a Black man until the man died.

The now-former officer has been charged with 2nd Degree Murder, and he and three other former officers were dismissed from the force and face other charges.

The event was the spark that lit a fire nationwide and around the world, bringing thousands and thousands of anti-police brutality protestors to the streets to march for racial justice and equality.


The Franklin Reporter & Advocate live-streamed the event:

Posted by The Franklin Reporter & Advocate on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

“Today’s ceremony is about us renewing and reaffirming our Oath of Honor, and trying to promote unity in our community, as the officers of Franklin Township have done so many times before,” Public Safety Director Quovella Spruill told the officers.

“The Oath of Honor is the very core of a law enforcement principles,” she said.

The oath, which is recited by newly minted police officers, reads as follows:

“On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution, my community and the agency I serve.”

“Our officers are here today as a reminder as to why we stood that very first day and held our hand up,” Spruill said. “To protect our community, to defend those who cannot defend themselves, and last but not least, provide infinite service when called upon.”

“The members of the Franklin Township Police Department take this responsibility seriously,” she said.

Pastor DeForest “Buster” Soaries, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, told the officers of the time he testified before a U.S. House of Representatives committee looking at police-community relations.

“When I went before the committee, all I did was describe the relationship I have had, and my church has had, with the Franklin Township Police Department since 1990,” he said. “I was able to tell our story without any exaggeration. I was able to talk about mutual respect, I was able to describe how we got past difficult times, I was able to assure them that no one expects perfection, but that when we have each other’s backs, we can gather when times are good and when times are bad.”

Soaries told the officers that “we have your back, we thank God for you, and we pray that you and our community together will continue to make Franklin an example for police-community relations for communities all over this country.”

Pastor Thomas Lewis, of True 2 Life Ministries, said that the relationship he and his church have had with the FTPD has been “excellent.”

“Thank you,” he said. “Nobody understands those two words more than I. Thank you because you didn’t see me as just the pastor, thank you because you didn’t see me as just the man, you saw me as part of a community and as part of a family, and you continue that relationship to this day.”

The Rev. Jamin Powell of Community Baptist Church encouraged thed officers to diversify the people in their personal lives.

“Allow yourself the opportunity to be a part of the community, not only from a professional perspective, but from a personal one as well,” he said.

“Remember, we can transform, we can elevate, we can work together,” he said. “I’m excited about being a part of this team, a part of this mission.”

Pastor Dennis McNulty of the Lighthouse Family Worship Center told the officers that they “have an advocate in me, utilize me when necessary.”

McNulty siad he would not allow his congregants to “have contempt prior to investigation. I won’t allow them to dislike you, simply because of the uniform that you wear. I won’t allow them to rail against the authority that you have over us, but in turn, there’s got to be checks and balances.”

“Our police departments all over the land have been rebuked and rebuked, and now it’s time to tell you that the rebuke has been warranted at times, unnecessary at others, but at the end of the day, in Pastor McNulty, you’ll not only have somebody that will officiate at your wedding, but you’ll have somebody who will pray with you, talk with you, counsel with you and support you,” he said.

Temple Beth El’s rabbi Eli Garfinckle thanked the officers for “putting your lives on the line.”

“Law enforcement is a basic function of civilized society,” he said. “If there is no enforcement, then there is no law. If there is no law, then there is no justice, and if there is no justice, then there is no life, or at least, no life worth living.”

“I thank you for putting your lives on the line, we depend on people who are willing to risk their lives for the sake of others,” he said.

The Rev. Sharon Cully, a township resident and former pastor at Somerset Presbyterian Church, said, “we’re here with you and for you, we’re here to support the director and everything we need to do to continue to lift the spirits of the township police department,” she said. “We are here to serve you as you protect others.”

Imam Rizwan Rizvi of Masjid-e-Ali called the officer’s profession an “honorable” and “noble” one, and likened them to emissaries sent by God to Earth.

“Who better than you guys, who protect the law of the land and you protect justice,” he said.

Middlebush Reformed Church’s Pastor George Montanari told teh officers that he was “grateful” for them.

“I’m so grateful for the ways in which I keep hearing from multiple people that there has been trust established between the community and Franklin Township police,” he said. “I’m grateful for who you are and what you do.”

After the event, Spruill said it was important because she thinks “it’s important for all law enforcement officers during these times to reaffirm taking that oath and to reflect upon why they took that oath.”

“No one took this job for money, our job is to serve the community,” she said. “We just want to bring them back to that.”

Township Councilwoman Crystal Pruitt, who has made the police department one of her Council priorities, said teh event was important “to both reaffirm to themselves and the community the morals and values that brought them to this profession. It’s really heartening to see everyone out here in their uniforms and being arms wide open to the community.”

“… I am not going to mince words, there’s a lot of difficult conversations that we need to have as a community, both on the municipal level and on the national level, and I am committed to having those conversations with the department and our colleagues,” she said.

“We have something really special here and really unique,” Pruitt said. “The way they conduct themselves makes me very proud. I’m also going to challenge them to be better, because that’s what you do to things you love, you challenge them to improve.”

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