MPD Responds to Church Complaint

Meridian Police Chief James Reed says an internal investigation is being conducted into claims that a local pastor was threatened with arrest during a service at Bonita Lakes Park.

The incident happened Sunday morning during a worship service led by Agape Fellowship Church.

During that time, Pastor Gary Bickford said he was approached twice by a police officer: The first time was to turn down the music; the second was to request proof of rental. Bickford said the officer told him he would be arrested.

Prior to this, Chief Reed said the officer had received two complaints about noise at the park. After investigating the matter, he says the officer acted appropriately.

"If someone calls with a complaint, then we're obligated to look into that complaint," said reed. "In order to try to mitigate this thing and make sure that we come to a peaceful conclusion I'm going to ask that the Meridian Police Department, in the event that we receive a complaint from anyone in the park, regarding an event in the park, that we check with the park manager to make sure that that particular group does have permission to use the park."

Reed says after it was verified that the church had rented the pavilion for the service, the two responding officers left the scene, and no arrest was made.