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The Clearwater, FL, Chief of Police Daniel Slaughter published an article in the Tampa Bay Times this week defending his department's approach to the Church of Scientology, which is headquartered in the city.

It reads in part:

"For years the Clearwater Police Department has been thrust into the middle of a debate between a controversial religion and its critics, without a voice in the matter. We feel it important to publish some facts of our own to provide the city we serve and anyone else who may be interested with some perspective.

The Clearwater Police Department received over 78,319 calls for service in 2018 with approximately 109 or 0.1 percent of those calls originating from Scientology staff or security.

Consistent with other law enforcement organizations, the Clearwater Police Department has an extra-duty program to provide off-duty officers to a wide variety of businesses and religious entities. These programs are not funded by taxpayers, and most important, do not draw from the on-duty resources paid for by the taxpayers. All officers serving in an extra-duty capacity are bound by oath to remain impartial and operate under the policies and procedures of the Clearwater Police Department. Regardless of who pays the bill, the extra-duty officers work for me.

The total billed to all organizations using off-duty officers through the extra-duty program including recognized religious entities was approximately $790,127.50 in fiscal 2018. Scientology extra-duty accounted for approximately $26,740 or 3.4 percent of the total.

Scientology being a recognized religious entity is entitled to contract for the same services as any other religious entity or business. "