What is a Chaplain

Description Of The Public Safety Chaplaincy

Public Safety chaplains are comforters, pastors, teachers, and counselors. Chaplains are creative and understanding as they demonstrate God’s grace and love in ministering to people in crisis situations. Chaplains serving with law enforcement, fire department, and emergency services agencies minister to the employees of the agency as well as the people served in the community by that agency.

As persons called by God, Public Safety Law Enforcement Chaplains are trained to serve in an environment of critical incident service and response. There are not many areas of mission service that require greater spiritual sensitivity and more rapid response to human need than a critical incident or disaster. Chaplains help people discover spiritual resources and faith by providing worship services, religious education, pastoral care and counseling.

Chaplaincy is an expression of ministry that places chaplains inside various settings. As such, the ministry of chaplaincy is an extension of the local church reaching into our diverse and multi-cultural society providing spiritual care to people. Chaplains perform the roles of pastor, preacher, teacher/rabbi, evangelist, counselor, and administrator as they represent the church and the denomination from "inside" the using agency.

Entering that saddest of moments is not easier for a chaplain, but the chaplain brings experience, training and skills to the tragedy that are as specialized as the law enforcement resources every officer develops with training and experience. As a team, both chaplain and officer make an important difference in the lives of persons touched by tragedy. They work together.

Chaplains represent a wide variety of religious traditions and levels of professional preparation and endorsement. But when the chaplain is working in the police world, they are not necessarily serving in the capacity of a religious leader of a particular congregation or denomination. Chaplains serve personal and spiritual needs of individuals where they are and when they need the support of another person who comes to them without judgment, with openness. They cares for them until the crisis moment is over. Chaplains respect the persons they serve, even though there may be profound differences in race, gender, economic status, religious experience or other factors.

Chaplains come at any hour, in all kinds of weather. Mostly, they listen. But, they also comfort people who are shaking with fear, with a gentle touch. or perhaps, if someone asks, a prayer will be offered in guarded privacy to support the trembling of spirit that comes in difficult moments. Chaplains also understand the difficulties of public bureaucracies, assisting with the "red tape" moments of life for officers and the public alike. They may spend many hours riding as active passengers with officers on patrol duty. They also participate in a wide variety of training programs with their officer partners. Often chaplains are asked to teach classes dealing with stress, family life, relationships, ethics, and other issues. Most chaplains responding to 9-11disasters raised their own funds to cover their expenses. Many law enforcement agencies, cities, police unions, churches and individuals contributed to make it possible for their chaplain to respond when needed.

The Chaplains Duties

Emergency Services Chaplains General Duties:

  • Bring a ministry of presence to those in their time of tribulation and loss
  • Build a bond of trust and friendship with the people we serve
  • Pray for and with those in need. Prayer works. Studies have illustrated that those people who pray and have people pray for them survive better than those who do not
  • Counsel or minister to citizens who have experienced or witnessed traumatic incidents or experienced violent behavior in others
  • Counsel or minister to the first responders who have been effected by a traumatic incident
  • Counsel or minister to other members of the agency who have been effected by a traumatic incident
  • Counsel or minister to the families of the first responders and their department personnel
  • Visit sick or injured citizens, first responders and their departmental personnel in homes and hospitals
  • Make death notifications and minister to the immediate spiritual needs of the persons notified
  • Assist the families of those who have died to help them make funeral arrangements and help contact other friends and family members
  • Provide assistance to surviving victims, pooling resources and ministering to the stress of the incident
  • Teach the first responders in areas such as Stress Management, Ethics, Family Life, and Pre-retirement by individual counseling, classes and providing training courses
  • Serve as part of a agency’s Crisis Response Team and Critical Incident Debriefing Team
  • Assist at suicide incidents by ministering to the people who are affected by the incident
  • Serve as liaison with other clergy in the community. The best way to help is to connect the victim to a clergy that they trust and know
  • Provide for the spiritual needs of prisoners. Sometimes an individual who has been arrested, needs someone to talk with about their feelings of guilt and failure.
  • Furnish sound Biblical responses to religious questions
  • Offer prayers at special occasions such as first responder recruit graduations, awards ceremonies, and dedication of buildings
  • Serve on review boards, award boards, and other committees
  • Pool resources to help with transients and the homeless
  • Minister to children, young adults, and adults of families in need of spiritual development, social development, and crisis intervention
  • Officiate, preach and teach at religious services
  • Help resource those who have survived a natural disaster, man-made disaster or critical incident