|Police chaplain program: Reverend and Rabbi offer support to community|
|Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick|
|Saturday, January 24, 2009|
|There are difficult situations law enforcement officers face on the job, situations such as a crisis, a sudden death or a domestic dispute. Having a trained police chaplain available on call provides support not only for the people involved, but for the officers as well.
This is the primary reason Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said he wanted to establish a chaplain program in Redding. He has recruited two members of the clergy to participate, the Rev. Russell Augustine of St. Patrick Church on Black Rock Turnpike and Rabbi Leah Cohen of Temple B’nai Chaim on Portland Avenue. The two took part in training exercises last week.
“We’ve been talking about doing this program for a while,” Chief Fuchs said. “It’s a great resource for the town, the residents and the officers.”
The program, he said, is more about community than specific congregations. There may be a situation where something happens to someone in Redding who is not from Redding. The police chaplains will be available to them.“As law enforcement officials, we are often working as social workers. While we’re happy to help people cope, bringing in a trained individual to help is a benefit to the community and the officers as well,” Chief Fuchs said.
Rabbi Cohen has been with Temple B’nai Chaim since July 2000, following her ordination that June from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Her rabbinical experience includes serving as a student rabbi during her five years of preparation in pulpits in Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, St. Thomas, USVI and Lyon, France.
“I was really honored,” she said of Chief Fuchs’ offer to become a police chaplain. “When I think about police and the sacrifices they make, I knew this was something I could do to help both the officers and the community.”
Father Augustine has been with St. Patrick Church for nearly six and one-half years. He studied at Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, N.J. His first assignment was with St. Joseph’s in Brookfield, where he served for 10 years. He then served for three years at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield, before coming to St. Patrick’s.
“When the chief called, I thought about the responsibilities of being a part of this program. I thought I could be there for the local police and the community in whatever way I could,” he said.
The Rev. Bill Hinckley of Plainfield is in charge of the training. He is the founder and senior chaplain of the Plainfield Police Chaplain Corps and the executive director of Shield Faith Ministries Inc. Mr. Hinckley has been involved in the formation of and training of pastors for police chaplain units throughout the United States, Canada, Ukraine and Brazil.
Chief Fuchs stressed that chaplains are 100% volunteers who are willing to come out to help at all hours of the night. Many communities have some sort of a chaplain program, he said.
In recruiting police chaplains, Chief Fuchs said he thought it was important to have both Christianity and Judaism represented.
Father Augustine, he said, has been active in the community for some time.
“He seemed like the perfect fit,” he said.
When he approached Rabbi Cohen, he said, “she said without hesitation, she would do it.”
The classroom training lasted for two days. The chaplains will now have the opportunity to go on ride-alongs with the police in their patrol cars and participate in department training so they will have an idea of what officers do on a daily basis. This is all a way for the chaplains and the officers to get to know each other on a more personal level.
“The chaplains are truly offering a service to the community through the police department we otherwise would not have,” Chief Fuchs said.