Last night we were in the middle of a police chaplain debriefing where we share our experiences, express concerns and yes our fears. A very experienced Chaplain had just shared a very moving emotional experience he had had. I was telling them about the last call I went on which was a gunshot to the head when I mentioned that seeing those things was not pleasant although those memories do not haunt me or even really bother me. What I am most concerned about or one of my fears is responding to a death of a child or baby.
This older Chaplain shared with all of the Chaplains that when we respond to those things we are not alone, God is with us or as some would say the spirit of God is with us and will lift us up and protect us. He told us of a time where he responded to one such call and afterwards went to his car and cried for several minutes and that is ok to do that, it is understandable and even healthy to do so.
For the family of those that have died there is no correct way to act, some get upset, others blank out, some will even laugh and non of those things are unacceptable. Everyone deals with grief in different ways and the traditional stages of grief may or may not be what people go through and it may not be in a specific order.
I appreciate the older Chaplains advice and pray that God will be with me on every call so I can be of service to those that are suffering even if it is just to be with them.
The responsibilities of a Police Chaplain do not include preaching, teaching, judging or anything of the sort. They include being there for those that need us to comfort, consul and this includes those of all faiths or no faith. We serve everyone no matter if they are gang members, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, political ideology we are there to serve and love.
One of the Chaplains shared a time when we went into a gang home and walked directly to the person which appeared to have the most grief and walked up and put his arms around an older lady and just hugged her, what happened next was not expected. All the gang members approached the Chaplain and the mother creating a very large group hug. The Police were asked to stay out of the home but this Chaplain felt the need to walk in and be with the mother which he did. This is true service.
I recorded the entire experience in another blog of a time when I was on scene and the wife asked me if she was bad for wanting to talk a shower and clean the kitchen before her deceased husband’s family came over. I said of course that does not make you a bad person and while she showered I cleaned the kitchen and spoke with her seven year old daughter. That day doing the dishes was my way of showing her love and concern for her loss.
Last night Rita the police dog was in our meeting with us and she went around the room and greeted each and every Chaplain, there were eight of us last night in the meeting. This dog has been through specialized training and she is a wonderful asset to the Police department. Rita responds to all sorts of crimes and is able to calm the victims down and even goes to court with them. This is just a small part of what our Chaplain meetings are about. The service the police Chaplains render are to the officers, dispatchers, office workers and those people on scene after a death. May God bless all the Chaplains and our wonderful law enforcement family.
No names or locations have been included because all of our activity is confidential Larry serves as a volunteer Chaplain for VECC, UPD and SLPD