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Chaplains in the Cruiser

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  • Chaplains in the Cruiser

    Many LE agencies appoint chaplains, whether paid or volunteer, to enlist their services in the community as well as among department personnel. These chaplains are most often given ride-a-long privileges. How do you feel about having the department chaplain with you in the cruiser. I'm interested to hear your responses.
    "I am growing weary of being shown the light by people who can't do what I do, but know I'm not doing it right."

  • #2
    My force has, I think, a number of chaplains. I've never seen any of them with the exception of one, a Methodist, who was constantly at the Police Station, whether acting as what we call an "Appropriate Adult" (surrogate parent for juveniles whose parents can't be bothered to turn up and look after them) or, where a Police Officer had died or there had been a particularly nasty incident, quietly and sympathetically speaking to colleagues. Unfortunately he died long before his time earlier this year. RIP Denis Van der Meijden.

    As to the rest. Never met 'em. No idea what they're like.
    I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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    • #3
      Our head chaplain attended the state academy and is a certified police officer. He is a reserve/chaplin status and goes on rides every couple of weeks. I think our other chaplains who are not certified go on rides every once in a while but are treated basically the same as any other ride-a-along.

      My favorite quotes by him.

      "chaplain, why do you carry a gun as a man of god?" ...."because not everyone is going to heaven."

      and when talking to two officers recently involved in a lethal use of force.

      "you have to remember, sometimes some people must die so others can live."
      Illegitimi non carborundum - Don't let the bastards grind you down.

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      • #4
        I also began my LE career as a civillian, volunteer chaplain. I was 24 years old, pastoring a church and full of interest in LE. I quickly became a cop "wanna-be." I read an article in a the ICPC (International Conference of Police Chaplains) newsletter titled, "If you wanna be, be, but don't be a wanna be." So, I did just that. The agency I served as chaplain commissioned me to go to the academy, 5 months later, I was no longer a manna be! Today I serve in both roles. I am still a chaplain, but now a road cop also. Its a delicate balance.

        The reason for my original question stems from my memories of riding with officers in my early days as a chaplain (about once a week), and being aware that some of them really didn't want me around. I realize that there are several possible answers to that question, but wanted to get a few angles from everyone in the forum. Thanks in advance for your input.
        "I am growing weary of being shown the light by people who can't do what I do, but know I'm not doing it right."

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        • #5
          I wouldn't want them with me unless I knew them personally.

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          • #6
            Our Chaplain is known to all the deputies, who consult him when they have problems, so a ride-along is no problems. He's also Chaplain (and maybe a fireman) with the volunteer Fire Dept.

            In a huge department, I suppose you never know what a Chaplain is going to be like. This is a small Office, and he's a friend and a lot of help. He'll help with manhunts, dirving his own car, and help with notification of deaths.

            Good man.
            "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"

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            • #7
              When I first joined Officer.com, I recruited the ICPC to write a monthly column (first Thursday of each month). They remain one of our longest-running contributors, with a different chaplain writing each month. At least one has a forum account here.

              I didn't do this because I'm a religious person, but because I think the police chaplaincy is a greatly underused resource. Chaplains have skills far beyond those of the typical cop in dispute resolution, suicide intervention, grief counseling, and other areas that cops encounter often. I can think of a hundred occasions where a chaplain would have been useful at a domestic violence incident, a death notification, an unattended death (person dies while not under medical care, no foul play suspected), and when officers or citizens are injured. Most chaplains have a good sense of when to be overtly "sacred" (acting as a religious leader), and when to be a secular counselor.

              The best chaplains are the ones who just hang out with the cops a lot, so that their presence doesn't cause people to wonder who died. That's how they get to know the troops, gain rapport, and even get some cops to talk to them.
              Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.

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              • #8
                The Alabama Dept of Public Safety has volunteer civilian Chaplains. They are attached to the dept's Administrative Division. They are not sworn Officers, and do not routinely do "ride-alongs".When entering the Chaplain Program, they attend an orientation program at the Academy in Selma. Chaplains are most commonly utilized in assisting Officers deliver death notifications. They are tremendously helpful in these difficult situations.

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                • #9
                  We have chaplains at my department. They are a great resource for us, and always willing to assist at some of the worst times (which are when we need them most). They all do numerous ridealongs each year.

                  As far as having one in my vehicle...I guess it's the same as having any ridealong in my vehicle. But I watch my language, more!
                  1* 5%'er Sheepdog

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                  • #10
                    I like 'em, but they keep falling off the back of my Motor Unit
                    LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DRINK CHEAP BEER!

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                    • #11
                      Our Chaplain is a blue collar, easy going guy who is not afraid to laugh. He is a great resource that I have used for despondant people (relatives of deceased persons, family at major traffic accidents). I feel assured knowing I could reach out to him for anything and he can ride with me anytime.
                      Severe Vitas

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                      • #12
                        I guess it really depends on the kind of person the chapalin is. I suspect that there might be some hesitation for some officers, given the rather crude and abrasive environments we work in (and, let's be honest, the squad room can be a pretty "unholy" place at times). Also, for some people, religion in general is a very sensitive subject.
                        "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                        -Friedrich Nietzsche

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                        • #13
                          We have a few in our department. Theyre called VIPs. Volunteers in Police Service. They work out well with traffic assistance at car accidents, special events, help out with generally anything that is low key yet needs to be done. The old timers dont like riders, but Im more than happy to take a volunteer on a ridealong.

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the input guys. I know that most cops are welcoming of the chaplain in their cruiser. I also know there are others that absolutey refuse to take a rider, least of all the chaplain. Of course, chaplains are to be pluralistic, never imposing their beliefs upon another, and never being judgmental. The chaplain provides the "ministry of presence" as one put it. As mentioned above, the best way for a chaplain to infiltrate the ranks is for him to hang out with the troops and put them at ease when they're around him. It takes time, but the chaplain will eventually build a working relationship with officers. A cop will be more likely to talk to a chaplain in his time of crisis when he has forged a friendship and trust with that chaplain.
                            "I am growing weary of being shown the light by people who can't do what I do, but know I'm not doing it right."

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                            • #15
                              The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has many voluntary Chaplains located across Canada, of a variety of faiths. There used to be a full-time Chaplain at our Academy, but I am not sure if there is or not any more.

                              We have a voluntary Chaplain here who has been doing so since about 1994. He is a Presbyterian Minister, who retired from his full-time ministerial duties about 1 year ago - and who says he is busier now than he was before, with requests to guest Pastor at a variety of Churches! I have had this Chaplain to help me with Notification of Next of Kin, he has "been present" for us to just run for coffee during long investigations, and ever now and then we drag him out to our transfer parties just to keep us in line!

                              I used to attend the local Ministerial Association meetings when I was on General Duties, and have had help from these other Ministers with NOK notifications, etc.

                              It probably helps my attitude towards these men, and women, of the cloth in that my wife and I have been very involved with the different Parishes and friends with several of the Priests where we have been posted.

                              We have even had the odd K of C vs Mason rivalry here, but we always know who wins those!
                              #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
                              Proud Dad of #54266 - RCMP - 2007-02-12 to date
                              RCMP Veterans Association - Regina Division member
                              Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada - Associate (Retired) member
                              "Smile" - no!

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