Former pastor returns to the Greensboro Police Department

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – One of the newest police officers on the streets of Greensboro who was recently a pastor is going from the pulpit to a police cruiser.

Officer John Matthews joined the Greensboro Police Department during one of the most challenging times in the department’s history in late 2020. There was a record number of homicides, civil unrest and a need for dozens of officers. 

“I don’t think there’s many people who want to go be a police officer right now,” he said. “That’s really all I wanted to do.”

Matthews served on the force for 10 years before transitioning to a youth minister at Westover Church in 2019. He’s back and hopes to help heal the relationship between police and the community. 

“It brings me deep gladness. And stepping away from it made me realize that,” Matthews said. 

He sees his role as an opportunity to bring healing to the city. 

“I have opportunities with every call I go on to be a peacemaker,” he said. “Treating people with respect and fairness, and you start to rebuild or restore some of that trust that’s clearly missing.” 

After seeing the reaction to the death of George Floyd and the civil unrest it brought to Greensboro in the summer of 2020, he felt the need to protect and serve again. 

“On a daily basis, I want to treat people the way I want to be treated,” Matthews said. “I want to go and love my neighbor as myself.” 

A unity prayer walk led him to make the career change.  

“There are people hurting every single day in our city who need good, moral police officers who want to do the right thing,” Matthews said. “Who are prepared to do the right thing and who are willing to do the right thing.”   

He says he uses what he has learned in training and ministry to enforce the law with fairness and truth even under pressure.

“Police officers are always, every single time, going to go help the people who need it,” he said. “Regardless of how those people feel about them.” 

Even if a call ends in arrest, Matthews says he wants to do the right thing. 

“After I respond to call for them to say that officer treated me fairly,” Matthews said. 

Matthews said the Good Samaritan parable in the Bible inspires him. He’s on the last week of an abbreviated training before starting patrols across the city. 

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