Cleveland County Church creates lounge for sheriff’s deputies

Law enforcement officers are often tasked with patrol duties, some of which require them to remain in their vehicles for extended periods of time. A member of the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church acknowledged this commitment. Now the church has set up a lounge where officers can come and stretch, grab a snack and refuel before finishing their shift.

“It was a decision that our deacons determined was a good opportunity,” said Pastor Toby Bird. “As a congregation, we have been in a season of prayer about how God might use us to reach out and serve our community. One of our members pointed out what most of us knew, that many in the sheriff’s department were using our parking lot as what we perceived to be a focal point. We decided to contact the sheriff to see if a type of room dedicated to the use of deputies would be beneficial.

Bird says God’s house is also a spiritual retreat for officers.

“It opens the door to sharing this ministry and sharing the hope of Jesus,” Bird said. “We believe that the hope that Jesus Christ offers should be proclaimed to our community and that is the reason for our efforts, to reach out to our community and provide this service to our local law enforcement is a way to do it.”

Located at 3932 Pleasant Grove Church Road, the lounge includes recliners, tables, a bathroom, and snacks. Bird said it’s important for the church to honor those who protect us with their lives every day. The church held a dedication ceremony on February 2.

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“Paul talks about being submissive to authorities and leaders,” Bird said. “We have an obligation to respect authority. It’s a way we felt we could have an impact on them.

Lt. Jody Seagle has been with the force for 17 years. Every year he is surprised by the growing number of attacks on law enforcement. According to fbi.gov, “The rate of assaults on officers in 2019 was 11.8 per 100 sworn officers.

“Sitting in the car, we have to do it,” Seagle said. “Is this the safest thing? Probably not. The fact that they offer us a place to come takes the burden off. You see things on the news. You would never dream of that happening there. We’re taught to keep an eye out, but is it really safe when you can’t see what’s going on behind you?

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church created a break room for law enforcement to fill out paperwork, take a break, or grab a snack while on duty.

Seagle was only 21 when he joined the force.

“I’m not going to say it’s a calling,” Seagle said. “That’s what I always wanted to do. After high school, I went to college and joined recruit school.

The Sheriff’s Office focuses on all areas of Cleveland County. Because Sheriff’s Department officers support small municipalities, there are few or no places where they can work privately and be readily available to answer a call.

“Generally we have three officers on the shift that’s assigned to the north end of the county,” Seagle said. “If they bring their lunch or have to come back for it, they can come back relatively close to their area and not wander away from it for a long time. You can sit there, eat your meal, and if you’re called to answer a call, you’re still close enough to do so.

Seagle said he felt lucky to be in Cleveland County.

“I feel lucky to have so much support from our county,” Seagle said. “The support we have for law enforcement is different than some neighboring counties and states. They treat us very well here.

Latrice Williams can be reached at 704-669-3339 and lwilliams6@gannett.com.

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