Lexington Police repurposing chaplain position

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Lexington Police Department is repurposing its chaplain’s position to provide more broad-based wellness support for officers and staff, the department said in a statement Monday afternoon.

The announcement comes as the position — or at least a person who holds it — has been under fire from some parts of the community for his actions last year.

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That officer is being reassigned as part of the realignment, the department said.

“For the past year, the Lexington Police Department has been developing a holistic wellness program to provide improved services for department employees. By partnering with professionals with mental health, nutrition, and veteran affairs expertise, we are committed to enhancing the well-being of our personnel,” the department said in a statement.

“As part of the development of this program, Lexington Police is planning to transition from a spiritual chaplain officer position to a civilian wellness coordinator. This coordinator would oversee physical, psychological, spiritual, financial and professional wellness activities across the department.

“Effective Monday, July 6, the Lexington Police Chaplain position was formally dissolved and Donovan Stewart has been reassigned to the Bureau of Patrol. Members of the Community Chaplaincy Program have been notified of that program’s suspension. The department values its community partnerships and looks forward to working with city leaders and organizations to grow our wellness program,” the statement concluded.

Stewart is the officer who has been at the center of controversy. Protesters have held two events at Fayette Mall calling for his firing.

Cell phone video from 2019 reportedly shows Stewart punching an autistic teenager during the teen’s arrest at the mall. Investigators say the teenager was with friends and the group was being disorderly in the mall.

Protesters say this week, they passed out more than 300 brochures detailing their demands.

Lexington Police say they can’t take any action as part of an internal investigation of the Donovan Stewart incident last year until all the lawsuits associated with it are resolved.

The protesters also are asking the following changes in mall security and the Lexington Police Department:

– End racial profiling of mall patrons
– End moonlighting of LPD officers as mall security
– If LPD officers are actively engaged in responding to alleged criminal activity at the mall, they must be required to wear a body camera and have it turned on
– Donovan Stewart never be allowed to work mall security again

For a detailed look at all changes protesters say need to be made in the current Lexington Police collective bargaining agreement with the city and the call for greater police accountability, click here.