Pastor becomes a policeman

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An associate pastor at the First Assembly of God on West Ellington Parkway was endorsed last week by Lewisburg's Police Advisory Board to succeed a patrol officer who couldn't continue in her new job because of family responsibilities.

Shaun Grant, 32, has lived in Lewisburg for nearly 10 years, and "will continue in his capacity at the church, but obviously not on a full-time basis," Police Chief Chuck Forbis said a day after introducing his candidate to succeed Officer Jennifer McDonald.

McDonald's mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Forbis said. The new officer "expressed deep regret" about having to leave the job she started one month ago. "She left that night... It's a real shame. She was doing real well. She was about to go to the academy."

Grant, who's been serving as one of the department's police chaplains, "probably did as well as anybody" when he and other applicants were being considered, Forbis said. He "ranked real high with community ties... but we put more weight on experience" when selecting McDonald.

Nevertheless, Grant has been riding with police officers and has become familiar with what they face while on patrol, Forbis said.

Former Police Chief Wayne Coomes, a member of the Advisory Board, asked Forbis if Grant could use McDonald's place in the Tennessee Law Enforcement Academy at the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission headquarters in Donelson.

Orientation for that set of classes had already been held, so Grant's formal police training might start Jan. 3 and he could be on patrol alone next spring, Forbis said.

Grant offered to attend the Police Advisory Board meeting last week so he could answer questions from the board. He confirmed that his desire to become a police officer is supported by his family and church.

Questons from the board included light-hearted kidding with respect to the seriousness and difficulty that can come with police work: "Are you crazy?" Several board members asked the question or some variation on that theme.

The Rev. Steve Thomas, another police chaplain who also serves on the advisory board, said while he's always believed in providence, he's always pleasantly surprised when there are developments like Grant joining the police force.

Grant said becoming a police officer has been a "dream," and that he also sees it as an extension of his ministry to help people.

While the Police Advisory Board's vote is a recommendation to City Manager Eddie Fuller, the city official has said he's glad to receive advice on such issues and would always place great weight on the board's decision.

The new patrol officer is married. The couple has two children and they live in Lewisburg. His hobbies include music and restoring classic cars. His church has had a Fathers Day event with Muscle Cars and he's been to the Cruise-In and other car shows in the area.

Also during the Police Advisory Board meeting, Forbis reported one of the 911 dispatchers has decided that's not a career to be pursued, so there's another opening at the department. However, like Grant, the likely candidate is to be drawn from the pool of applicants gathered when that job was open a few months ago. Forbis has indicated he may soon announce another new hire for the department.