by Sia Nyorkor
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
5:39 PM CST, December 10, 2012
A Kansas town says it won't stop its police chaplains program. But an advocacy group complains the town is violating the constitution.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent McPherson a letter. It threatened legal action if the city doesn't stop sending pastors out with police officers. But the city sought legal advice and says it plans to keep the program and may even expand it.
The City of McPherson says it will stand firm and not "run for the hills."
"It's cheap to slap a stamp on an envelope and see if you can get people to scurry around," says McPherson city attorney Jeffrey Houston.
The Wisconsin-based group sent the letter after it says it received an anonymous complaint about the police chaplains program. The program pairs pastors and police officers during their shifts.
The city says it started the chaplaincy program to support police officers with ride-alongs and when they have to inform families about death.
"Our police staff has a very difficult job. A lot of them have issues just like other families and I wanted them to have the opportunity to have someone ride with them and show compassion to them," says mayor Thomas Brown.
McPherson is prepared to fight for its program and says it won't cost the taxpayers a dime. Several law firms have offered their support.
"If you read the first amendment, it doesn't say we're supposed to be free from religion, it says that congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. I think everyone forgets to read the last half of the sentence," says mayor Brown.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation is the same group that sent the City of Buhler a letter, requesting it take the cross from the city seal. Buhler is in the process of re-designing it's seal.
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