By Gary Lloyd
COLUMBIANA — The parents of jailed youth evangelist and The Basement founder Matt Pitt today spoke out against the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office giving out honorary badges.
An honorary badge is at the center of Pitt’s legal troubles. Pitt has been charged twice with impersonating a peace officer, once in Shelby County last year and once in Jefferson County earlier this year.
Today was the first time Larry and Missy Pitt have seen their son in 60 days. Pitt this morning wore an orange inmate jumpsuit, had his wrists and ankles shackled and wasn’t allowed to speak to or make gestures at anyone at his probation revocation hearing.
After Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Dan Reeves revoked Pitt’s probation, Pitt’s parents spoke to reporters outside the Shelby County Courthouse.
“It’s just a test of faith,” Larry Pitt said.
The Pitts blamed the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for giving Pitt an honorary badge.
“What they’re doing is not right,” Larry Pitt said.
Larry Pitt said there was no proof presented during the hearing that his son was impersonating a peace officer.
Missy Pitt said she regrets that her son ever took the honorary badge.
“For the future, I’d like for the sheriff’s department to be more concerned about when they give these badges and to explain to people what these badges are, what they represent, because the oath on the back of the badge, you’re taking an oath to represent the sheriff’s department,” she said. “They should not give these badges out without telling people what these badges mean.”
Missy Pitt said she believes her son was “misrepresented.”
Larry Pitt said when Matt Pitt first got the badge, the family was proud.
The Pitts asked why just their son has been targeted when the sheriff’s office has given out thousands of honorary badges.
Chief Deputy Randy Christian submitted this statement to The Trussville Tribune: “Honorary badges have been given out by Sheriff’s dating back beyond 1963 so she is correct in that there are probably thousands that have been given out over the years,” Christian said. “That means that thousands of people have been given that honor, understood what it meant and have been able to handle that honor without getting themselves into the kind of trouble her son has. I think that is very telling so I will just leave it at that.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.