This is Jen from grace, for single parents where your parenting and God’s grace collide. Welcome back. I have on the podcast. I’m happy to have you back last time you were on and you talked to us about the power of forgiveness. And today we are going to talk about racial injustice and I feel like you have a lot that you can help us wade through. Since you are in a unique position, you are a police chaplain in New Jersey. Is that right?
Pastor Pitts (00:46):
Absolutely correct. Yes.
Okay. And you are the only black woman police chaplain in New Jersey?
Pastor Pitts (00:54):
New Jersey in Millville, New Jersey
Okay. What’s the difference being in Millburn, New Jersey?
Pastor Pitts (01:03):
Well, there’s a lot of surrounding cities that have other chaplains as well. Each police department has their own set of chaplain. With me being, living in Millville that’s how I’m able to, to work with the Millburn police department because it’s in my locality, but they have in surroundings cities.
All right. can you tell us a little bit about what your job is like and a little bit about how that is?
Pastor Pitts (01:32):
Well dealing with the police chaplaincy I’m always tell people my job is not to proselytize or convert people in the police department, it is to make myself available. Me being the police chaplain, I am there for the police officers, not for those that are incarcerated. And in my police chaplaincy training, we were taught what is called ministry of presence, which is basically just making yourself available. Now, if they bring up God in that instance, then that that’s an open door. But I I’m there to make myself available. normally what happens is I will go to a police briefing and after they have their briefing, they’ll say one of the sergeants will say, well, Chaplain Pitts, you have anything you would like to say any words for the day. And I usually give them like a short word for the day.
Pastor Pitts (02:36):
And then I say a short prayer with them before they head out to the street. And it’s like there’s four groups of officers. it’s for each shift there’s a different set of police officers. Not only do I go to their police briefings, but I do ride alongs. I’m in the car and I have been on some ride alongs where for instance, there was one, there was a domestic dispute and they didn’t know if violence was involved with that. When we got to our destination, the officer told me, he said, stay in the car because we don’t know what’s going on. You know, and while I’m sitting in the car, a young lady walks by and she bends down and she looks, and she says, Oh, shucks, they got the, they got the pastor with them.
Pastor Pitts (03:28):
And when they, when they, when they sit in, when she said it, I didn’t recognize who she was at first. And my response to her was you better be glad that the pastor is with them. And needless to say it was a young lady that I knew and what happens a lot of times why they encourage this. Cause a lot of times, like in a like a domestic dispute or something like that, once you say chaplain, I don’t know. It seems like people just kind calm down. They calm down for whatever reason. It’s not all the time, but most of the time, once you say chaplain, they kinda calmed down. With the police department, I am a lead chaplain for one of the high schools in Millville and there I am there for the students.
Pastor Pitts (04:18):
if they don’t feel comfortable in talking to the guidance counselor, I’m available to talk to the talk to the students within the high school. And that program is, is what they call station house is a program that’s called station house adjustments. say if a student gets in trouble that whatever they, whatever crime they committed, they could be charged for it. We opt them for that program. And what happens is they have to do some form of community service. We meet with the parents and talk with the parents and offer the whole family services. Cause sometimes it’s just not the child, the whole family may need services. we work with a family success center in our area and we, we have the child write down what did they learn from that experience? As well as them doing community service they can get four hours. It just depends on how bad the crime is. Depends on how much community service. Now, the thing is this program is a one and done deal. if they get in trouble again, they will not be opted for that program. as you know, it’s important for them to take advantage you know, of that program and, and hopefully in prayerfully, not getting into any more trouble
Though over the last month or so with everything that’s been going on with George Floyd and Ahmaud Aubrey, Brianna Taylor, and everything. How has everything been for you as far as being the police Chaplin? And I mean, I know school hasn’t been going on.
Pastor Pitts (05:58):
Well, what we do is now with, with school not being in session, we put the responsibility on the parents to make sure that those kids you know, and they have to have a record, right? They haven’t have something recorded that they’re having their kids do such and such for this community service. And then once they’re done we meet up with the parents at the police station or they can drop it off and put it in our mailbox to let us know that they have completed those hours. that’s, that’s how we’re doing it now, which is actually a little bit easier, but we still contact the parents. We talked to the parents and talked to the child to see, you know, where everybody is at, where where’s their mindset and stuff at. But since the situation with, with George Floyd, we did have, we, we’ve had two protests that I know of done in our city.
Pastor Pitts (07:01):
The first protest, I did not go to the second protest. The police chief requested for the chaplains and I marched even the first protest. Very peaceful, no vandalism, nothing of the sort. But there were people there that had issues, you know people being, getting killed and by the hands of officers, not just in Melville, some of the surroundings, police departments and justice still has not been served. And, again that is a lot of people’s problems like, okay. And we know in our mind we could see something and say, Oh, this is clear cut. You know? But there’s just many channels that you have to go through. And, and honestly they call it the blue wall. There are many laws protecting the officers. And, and I think that’s, that’s a big problem where people they’re not getting the justice that they want or feel as though that they deserve.
Pastor Pitts (08:16):
And we’re talking about going back years, we, ain’t talking about a couple of years where things have not been resolved you know, dragged out in court and just different things of that nature. that is definitely a big issue. They just had a incident where actually one of the officers that was in my police department put up and it was basically along the lines of a racial slur and they ended up suspending him. Now he put this up on Facebook, see social media. And the community wants them fire, not just suspended, they want him fired. And that’s another issue where people are looking at, okay, some of these officers, they leave one department and go somewhere else. And the argument is, look, these officers need not to be working at all, especially if they haven’t gone through some kind of counseling. And I don’t even know how you would prove, you know, prove that, okay, this person is not racist anymore. that’s the argument that’s on the table is, look, this officer needs to be fired, not just suspended because how, how you correct that. And then, like I said, if, if they do get fired, they’ll go to another locality and get hired again. And this person still has the same issue. that’s some of the things that were brought brought to the table at this particular protest.
Are you feeling an internal struggle between the two, between your, your day job and everything that’s going on in the country, or have you been doing it for long and it’s like your faith in God strong enough that you’re able, you feel fully reconciled on the two, do you feel like, you know, justice will be served and you’re, you’re good with add or, or is it difficult for you?
Pastor Pitts (10:23):
Honestly, I’m, I’m at peace. And at the end of the day anything that I do is going to be God and God inspired. I’m just not going to jump up and just do something just because someone asks me to do it or anything of that nature. honestly, at this point in juncture, on at peace and I’ve learned that sometimes we may not be able to change the whole scope of things, but we can change things in the areas that we work in, whether it be your job schools, whatever. wherever you can make that change in the capacity that you’re working in, then, then that’s what we need to do. The other thing that was addressed at this at this protest is the question was asked, was asked, was this a movement or a moment? And what was brought up was with Rosa parks, I’m sitting on the back of the bus boycotting.
Pastor Pitts (11:29):
It took them and a lot of people don’t know 381 days before the law was changed. And, and, and this is something that, okay, if we want change to happen in America, we have to be consistent in what we’re doing. We do. I mean, we have great examples that went before us. You had Martin Luther King, you know, you had Malcolm, they were consistent. They wouldn’t, you know, protesting one week. And then the next week they were off, you know, they had strategy, they had plans and goals and different things in place. And, and, and the other thing that I’ve noticed with a lot of these protests going on, you don’t even know who the leader is. . You know, back then they knew Martin Luther King, you know, he was the head of the March. They knew Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey. They knew these people were leaders.
Pastor Pitts (12:21):
Now you have people leading marches, but you don’t even know. You don’t even know who the the leader is in the protest. And to me that’s very important because you need to be attuned right to whoever’s leading. And if you’re not a tuned to, to who’s leading, then this is how chaos and disorder happens, you know? that’s another thing being, being attuned. I definitely think for what we see that there’s some organization that has to, has to take place and going to have to be consistent. It can’t be a hit and miss. If we want things to change in this country, you’re going to have, we’re going to have to be consistent. And we, we already know it’s not going to happen overnight, but it, I look at it this way. If we are consistent, you ever have someone, your child, right. We talking about single parents. If you ever had your child bug you until they get what they want, you’re like, okay, you’ll end up giving up. You’ll end up giving in. Cause you’re tired of them coming and asking you for the same thing that that’s what we’re going to have to do in order to to make change and be consistent.
Along that same lines of it being the movement, what are your suggestions or what was brought up when, when you were there, as far as, you know, what did you see that we can do to help for it too, to continue on? Because, you know, we see like this huge uprising at it right now, and I know that it, it’s not, you know, you don’t get a break from it. All of our, you know, the black community, it’s not going to end, but you know, me and you know, all my white counterparts in a week, we can, we can stop because of our white privilege. Hopefully we won’t, but what can we do to help and to continue?
Pastor Pitts (14:23):
Well number one, stand by us, speak up, use your voice go to town meetings get involved with the community. Again, this is a thing where you have to stand up for what you believe in, because what’s going to happen is if we don’t guess what all of our rights are going to be infringed upon, if it isn’t, if it can be a fringe upon, on one race, what do you think is going to happen to all the rest of the races? it’s important that it’s really power and unity. And again during the black Panther era and all of that, when it was doing those marches, you had, you had diversity in those marches. And what ends up happening is you know, the government gets upset cause now, okay, our people we’re standing with them too, you know, but it’s going to, it’s going to take courage.
Pastor Pitts (15:26):
You’re going to have to be bold. And, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I am the type of person. If I believe I am entitled to something I’m going to fight tooth and nail, until once I’ve done all that I can do, then I leave the results up to God. I always have the same when we do what we can, God will do what we can’t do, but that’s a condition. We got to do what we can do first, you know? And now it has to, to move from just talking to some action. Again, plans have to be put into place. And like I said, we can, we can do a round table all day long, but we got to have some action behind it. Gotta have some action behind it. And we have to teach these young ones, these millennials how to do things, right, how to channel their anger to get the right results and just different things of that nature too.
Pastor Pitts (16:29):
I watched a video clip and there was three generations of black men. You had a 16 year old, you had a 37 year old and you had a 46 year old. Now I can be honest, I’m 46 years old. Let me tell you, I did that March and stayed there. My feet was burning at the bottom. You know, my, age will tell on you, you know? And, and looking at this particular video, the 30 year year old tells the 16 year old look my generation and the generation before me, they didn’t drop the ball. We can’t do it, but you guys can do it, you know? And you know, people got elements, you know, stuff is people. They may desire to be out there, but their body won’t let them be out there, you know? And we just have to try to make the change as much as we can.
Pastor Pitts (17:30):
And we definitely, we have to reach our young people because they are our future, you know? And there’s a scripture in the Bible that says he calls the old because they know the way he calls the young because they are strong. And we have to speak their language in order to be able to get, not only to their head, but to their heart, that they will, they will listen to us. And this really comes, comes with teaching. You know we used to say, it takes a village to raise a child. There’s much stuff going on in the world. We have lost that. You know, now you can’t, because now you don’t even know who your neighbor is. Your neighbor could be an, an offender, you know? And those are the things that we have to get back to.
Pastor Pitts (18:26):
That’s what community really is, right. It’s just like a neighborhood watch, right? That neighborhood watch, we are protecting everybody that’s in that neighborhood. Well, we got to do the same thing on a larger scale for one another, because like I said, if one race rights are infringed upon everybody’s rights are going to be infringed upon. And that’s why it’s, it’s important to stand for what’s right. Stand for what’s for what’s just and practice empathy, put yourself in someone else’s shoes, if that was you. And I mean, when I say put yourself in someone else’s shoes really put yourself in their place, picture in your mind, if that was you, how would you want people to respond? And I think if we do that, then number one, we wouldn’t be quick to judge, you know, because you know, they talked about George Floyd being a criminal and just all this kind of different things, but what that had to do with how he was, he was mishandled. We got a whole lot of criminals, but they live in right. They in prison, but they alive. And, and those are the things as, as the Bible says treat, treat others like you want to be treated. Right. And and that’s what it boils down to. And, and I think even common courtesy, you know, that’s something that we think it should be a no brainer, but guess what? Common courtesy, common courtesy.
And where is it in the Bible with one part of your body hurts? The other part hurts.,
Pastor Pitts (20:11):
And that’s just what was going through my head those few weeks. It’s just like, you know, Your arm is hurting that bad, you know, like your arm was cut off that week. Yes. How can you not grieve for that?
Pastor Pitts (20:24):
Yes, absolutely. And, and I liked that analogy, because you just think about it. If you get a splinter in your finger, it’s something small, but it hurts. Right. And we’ll be doing everything that we can. And, and I say, this facetiously we’ll get a safety pen. Some of us may burn it in cause we want to try to purify it. make sure we don’t get no infection because we dig it in our finger, but that no splinter, right? You ain’t even worried about the rest of the rest of your body. You worried about that little thing that’s in your finger that’s causing use or I hate email. That’s another one. You know what I mean? It’s small, but it hurts. And I said, and it’s a song out there. What the world needs now is love. And I’m talking about unconditional love when it’s unconditional it.
Pastor Pitts (21:26):
Even if you don’t love me back, I’m still loving you. That’s really what unconditional is. A lot of people we base, we love on condition of what people can do for us. You scratch my back. I’ll scratch yours. That’s not real love. Real love is unconditional. Whether you love me or not, I’m still going to love you. Whether you treat me right or not, I’m still gonna treat you. Right. And I remember at my, at my job, I purposed in my heart because you have people at at work. Some people don’t want to engage. They won’t even look at you in your eyes because they don’t want to say hello. They don’t want to speak. They’ll look down. Or, you know, they’ll, try to occupy themselves with something else just they can engage. And honestly, that’s the society that we’re dealing with right now.
Pastor Pitts (22:15):
We are socially dysfunctional phones have made us dysfunctional you in the same room with the same person, but you’ll send a text instead of saying whatever you got to say, that don’t make sense to me. We have become socially dysfunctional. And now look, even with social distance, I think in a sense on, on one scale, it made it good. And then on another sense, it might’ve made it bad. Well, now people really don’t want to engage because they haven’t been engaging with people. we have to, we have to get back to unconditional love. Not based on what you can do for me or nothing. It’s just like, God, we, we we’ve done some things. Some things we don’t even want to repeat that we’ve done, but his love don’t change towards us. There’s nothing that we could do. And, and let me make this clear.
Pastor Pitts (23:12):
You can be a pedophile or whatever. There’s nothing that you can do. That’s gonna make God stop loving you. And we have to go back to love, real love, true love. And, and that’s what really, what the world needs now. And that’s what, and the world needs. Now. They need forgiveness too, right? God that love and forgiveness work hand in hand, God got to let some things go that you can move forward and you’ll have the right mindset. And you’ll be able to conduct yourself accordingly. It’s like I said, all the bashing and pointing the finger is not getting nothing done. We got to put some things to teach strategically, put some things in place to make a change. And we gotta be consistent. This, this can’t be a moment. It has to be a movement.
Explain to me how you see the forgiveness work in here, like where, because there al has to be some acknowledgement, right? How does the forgiveness work into this?
Pastor Pitts (24:22):
With the forgiveness? You’re going to have to work on you. I always tell people, people can be wrong as two left shoes, right? They can be wrong as two left shoes and whatever the situation is, but you always have to look inward. What could I have done to make the situation better? Even though this person was clearly wrong, what could I have done to make the situation better? That’s just, like I said before, about being pulled over. If I get pulled over, if I see that this officer is already angry, I’m not going to add fuel on the fire. And I’m talking to him at any kind of way and all that kind of stuff. What could I do? Right? The Bible says a soft and a soft answer, turns away wrath. I’m not going to dish out to him. What he’s dishing out to me, I’m going to try to diffuse the situation.
Pastor Pitts (25:22):
With forgiveness, it starts with us. What areas can we work on within ourselves? Because some things that we have in us, our parents may have instilled it in us, TV, television, music, you know, they got a song after police, you know, that kind of thing. all of these things plays a part. And we, I always say this, many of us are trying to be heroes to other people when we ourselves need to be safe. And this is why it starts with us first. They said, you, you pointed the finger, you got a thumb looking pointing right back at you. you gotta start with us. Then we can change people. But if you, you, yourself, ain’t change. How are you going to change someone else? How are you going to give someone else advice? And you’re not even taking the advice that you’ve received yourself.
Pastor Pitts (26:18):
it starts with us being in it being an example, and then passing it forward, passing it forward, and definitely with our, with our young people. Because right now let’s, let’s look at it. Kids are not in school. And to me, that’s not a good thing. The parents are, are, are teaching them or, you know, homeschooling whatever have you, but that’s not a good thing for them. They need to be socializing with other kids, you know, relationships here. It is again, right. We can not be in this world without relationships. You can’t even work at a job without some type of relationship because you’re going to be interacting with one another. we, we have to work on us BB example, and then we need to get ahold of our children and, and teaching, teaching them what is right. And being the example, because a lot of times, as a parent, sometimes you have parents there teaching them what’s right.
Pastor Pitts (27:22):
But the parents ain’t being the example. And the first thing the kid is going to say, and they may embarrass you, well, mom, you do it, dad, you know, mom, you do it. we, we gotta be that example and then teach. And I think that’s another thing that has happened in a lot of these homes. See and the reason why I said about the kids, sometimes it’s a bad thing right now for them to be home because you don’t know what people’s situation are. You don’t know how many kids I’ve first thing in the morning, coming in school crying. I had a young lady came to school on crutches as to what happened. This is a child. She was fighting her father’s significant other and put, got broke or whatever, have you, this is stuff kids should not be dealing with.
Pastor Pitts (28:16):
you have some kids that are home. Their only brief brief was when they went to school, right? Their only positivity was when they went to school and they may have had a positive teacher there or something too. It’s still something positive, giving them some kind of hope that things are going to get better. some of these kids that are home, every, everybody don’t have a good household. Right. we got to think about those things because I, I, you know, it pained me to see first thing in the morning, just looking on their countenance, you know, that they were going through through some things, you know, crying. And it’s, it’s not just about kids, it’s stuff at home. A child shouldn’t have to worry about anything. That’s why they’re children. Right. But you got children, they got to worry about what they’re going to eat.
Pastor Pitts (29:06):
How are they going to protect themselves when they get home? Everybody doesn’t, doesn’t have a safe Haven to go home to. And these are the things that we need to be looking at. And, and like I said, we have to reach our children. And one part of that is not only teaching them, but being that example as well.
And some kids don’t have that. Even a meal at home too. We don’t know if some of them are even able what they’re eating.
Pastor Pitts (29:34):
Yes. I remember. I worked I was a preschool teacher at one time and a lot of the kids what ended up happening the school, it was a private school, but the school didn’t receive a grant. half of the kids couldn’t come because the grant wouldn’t have provided transportation for these kids to get to the school because a lot of the parents didn’t have transportation to bring them to the school.
Pastor Pitts (30:04):
People don’t, you know, people don’t look don’t, they don’t look at these things, you know? And it’s, it’s we definitely noticed that. I said, we, we definitely have to do better. We have to do better. And we can’t be turning a blind eye to things because God forbid, if it was your child, who would you want somebody to turn a blind eye to it?
Well, thank you much. Would you like to close with a prayer?
Pastor Pitts (30:34):
Oh, thank you. I would be honored to. Heavenlyfather. We just thank you. We thank you for your grace and mercy. We thank you for just allowing us to come and talk about the social issues. And father, first, I want to, to touch my sister, Jen, I asked you God that you would bless her as she has blessed me to allow me this opportunity to be on her platform and her space father. I asked you that you would touch her in her body father and that you would align her body up. How you originally intended for it to work out. Whatever is going on. Father. We asked you that you would set it right. We ask you to release your healing virtue through her body. Give her a testimony of your miracle working power. And God, we pray for our parents that are, that are, that will see this father. We ask you that you would encourage their hearts. We ask you that if they stand in the need of anything that you would meet their need and father, we ask you a God that you would protect all of us, that you would protect all of us, God and help us. God heal us in every area. Whether it be mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, physically, financially father. In the name of Jesus, I ask you God, that you would touch our government leaders, that you will deal with their hearts, deal with their minds.
Pastor Pitts (32:00):
For your word says that the heart of the key is in your hand. And you can turn it whichever way you turn it, give us the wisdom and the knowledge that we need God to get the results that we need for equality in this United States of America. Father, give us the wisdom that we need. Need us in goddess in the way that you would have us to go put a protective hedge around about his father, sending out your guardian angels out before us protect our children, father for Lord. We know that Satan desires to system as wheat, but we thank you, Jesus, because you’ve already prayed for them. Protect them. Father, protect them in the mighty name of Jesus and Noah will be ever careful to give you glory to give give you honor, and to give you praise, give us wisdom. You said you would give it to us neighborly if we would just ask. And we thank you for these things, and we’ll be very careful to give you the glory honor and praise in Jesus name. Amen.