A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Police Chaplain

For two years now, I have been the chaplain of our police department in Smithville, Ohio. I entered into the experience, not out of a desire to be connected to law enforcement, but because I saw it as another opportunity to be in service in a different kind of way. What began as a somewhat unsure experience for me has become wonderfully rewarding, as I have found myself able to minister to the men and women in blue, and also had occasion to assist others in need.

Here are some of the things I have learned since I have been a police chaplain:

1. Officers and their families undergo unique kinds of pressure that citizens are often quite unaware of. It takes much psychological and moral fortitude to deal constantly with the worst of humanity.

2. Most officers truly love their jobs and want to serve and protect the public.

3. Once they come to trust their chaplain, police officers will share many things about their lives while sitting in a cruiser running radar. Police chaplains are needed.

4. The daily tasks of a police officer are many. It is more than simply driving around in a patrol car.

5. The police are often in a no-win situation with the media and certain segments of the public. When there is an altercation, the media assumes that the police have abused their authority, and that the subesequent investigation is a cover-up, instead of realizing that elements of internal investigations are to a greater or lesser extent, confidential by necessity. This is also true of the church, by the way. I have chaired two seperate District Committees on Ordained Ministry in our Conference of the United Methodist Church.

6. Citizens want the police to enforce the law.

7. Citizens want the police to enforce the law, except when it comes to them personally (especially traffic tickets).

8. Many citizens think they know police work better than the police themselves. There is no end of free advice. Some persons do nothing but complain about the police, but they are the first ones called when there is a problem.

9. Every police officer is not perfect. There are some "bad apples," to be sure, but almost all of the men and women in uniform I have known are conscientious and doing the best job they possibly can. Too often the public "nit-picks" their job performance, which, of course, none of us likes when it happens to us.

10. It has become quite an honor for me to serve as a police chaplain.
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Cross-Posted at RedBlueChristian

4 comments:

Ted M. Gossard said...

Good to read, Allan, and glad for your experience as well as for the people you serve.

gavin richardson said...

those are some excellent reflections. reminds me of my fire & emt days. how does one become a chaplain for the department these days?

Allan R. Bevere said...

Ted:

Thanks!

Allan R. Bevere said...

Gavin:

I became a chaplain because the police chief, whom I had gotten to know through various events, asked me.

How that has worked for others, I do not know.

Approximately half of the police departments in the U.S. do not have chaplains.