By a vote of 5-0 on March 20, the Maplewood Township Committee approved the appointment of six chaplains to the Maplewood Police Department — a new program that is an outgrowth of major discussions about the culture of policing in Maplewood and concrete changes taking place within the department.
Acting Chief Jimmy DeVaul said the chaplain program was an effort to “restore faith and trust in the department.” Those elements suffered after police video, audio and written reports from July 5, 2016 were released last summer showing officers kicking and punching a handcuffed teen and detailing an effort by police leadership to move South Orange and Maplewood teens into Irvington and keep them out of town.
The six appointees are:
- Rev. Rick Boyer, Prospect Presbyterian Church, Maplewood
- Rev. Branda Ehlers, Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church, Maplewood
- Pastor Valencia Norman, First Presbyterian & Trinity Church, South Orange
- Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, Congregation Beth El, South Orange
- Rev. Benard Poppe, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Maplewood
- Rev, Terry Richardson, First Baptist Church, South Orange
The chaplains will have their own office at the Maplewood police and court building on Springfield Avenue where they can meet privately with officers and get to know them on a personal basis, providing guidance and counsel. The chaplains will also help police with notifications involving deaths, assist with juveniles and with restorative justice.
In other news, tonight (April 3), the Township Committee will announce the appointment of a new Chief of Police. The two candidates for the position — DeVaul and Lt. Kevin Kisch — presented to the public and answered questions at a community meeting on March 5. DeVaul became acting chief last year when former Chief Robert Cimino was suspended; Cimino ultimately retired. Due to a state law, the Township of Maplewood was not be able to launch a nationwide search for a new police chief, as originally planned, and was required to hire from within the force.