What is a Police Chaplain?
A law enforcement chaplain is a member of the clergy with a passionate interest in, and the specialized training for pastoral care in the dangerous world of law enforcement. This pastoral care is offered to all people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, creed, or religion. The services are offered without cost or proselytizing.
The law enforcement chaplain is led in his or her own faith to be available and ready to serve those in need. The chaplain’s ministry provides a source of strength to the law enforcement officers and their families, other department members, the community, and the incarcerated.
One of the duties of a SPD Chaplain is to provide counseling to officers, their families, and other law enforcement employees. The chaplain may do this simply by providing a sympathetic ear to an officer who has experienced a traumatic incident, such as a motor vehicle crash, a shooting, or even a non-police-related death in the family. Officers experiencing marital problems can also turn to their chaplain for guidance. Essentially, the chaplain is there to provide a friendly and easily accessible resource that can help officers and their families get past their personal or spiritual difficulties.
SPD Chaplains may be called upon to provided mediation in a crisis situation. A barricaded person, a potential suicide or a hostage taker may not wish to speak to police officers but may be willing to speak to a chaplain from their particular religion. In a situation like this, a chaplain would be called in to communicate with the individual directly to try to defuse the situation in a safe manner.
Visit Sick or Injured Officers and their Families
An officer’s life can be incredibly stressful. It becomes much more stressful when the officer or a family member is ill or seriously injured. A chaplain also provides a measure of support by visiting sick or injured officers or by an officer’s sick family member.
SPD officers are often called upon to notify families of death due to suicide, fatal crashes, or criminal acts. When possible, a SPD Chaplain will accompany the officers and make the actual notification. In the case of a death, the chaplain offers assistance where needed to coordinate activities between families, the Coroner’s Office, local pastors, and funeral homes.
Community and Religious Liaison
The SPD Chaplains coordinate activities between the department, local agencies and religious groups. Community meetings may be organized as needed to address potential and current issues involving the community and the police.
Officers and Staff Support
The SPD Chaplains coordinate department-wide activities for the officers and their family members. In the case of a departmental personnel sickness or death, they would assist in coordinating SPD activities, including visitations and funeral services as needed, and assist the families in times of hardship.