Magazine article The Christian Century

L.A. Police Detain Black Episcopal Priest

Magazine article The Christian Century

L.A. Police Detain Black Episcopal Priest

Article excerpt

The handcuffing and detention of a black priest, in full vestments, outside of his church by police officers in pursuit of suspects has stunned the Los Angeles area's Episcopal bishop, who says he doesn't understand why police can't tell the difference between clergy and criminals. In a statement Bishop Frederick H. Borsch said he was "very concerned" about the treatment of Ronald Culmer by police during a January 7 incident at the St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Canoga Park.

Culmer was standing outside after the worship service with several parishioners, including children, when a man fleeing from police appeared, followed by four officers. Officers chasing the man and three other suspects, believed to be armed, confronted Culmer and the suspect with their weapons drawn. "The officers detained [Culmer] for a couple of minutes until we verified he was a priest," said David Kalish, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman. "Tactically it was understandable because suspects can disguise themselves. …

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