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November 02, 2005

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Ask the chaplain in the new "Chaplain's Corner"

My name is Chaplain David Gardner and I serve the Round Lake Park-Hainesville (IL) Police Department. Being the department chaplain has been the most rewarding time in my ministry. Without bragging too much I must thank God for the men and women in our department for their support and friendship.

The purpose of my column is two-fold.

First, I want to give you insight into what a department chaplain does, how he or she can help support you and to encourage you to use them.

Second, I want to offer myself as confidential resource to any and all of you for answers to questions best approached by a chaplain. In an effort to help other officers, I will give you the option to share your question-anonymously-and my answer in a future "Ask the Chaplain" column. Rest assured, the choice to have your question shared is yours and your identity will remain confidential at all times. Above all, know that you can ask me anything.

The chaplain program here was developed under the authority of Chief Bruce Johnson. As the department chaplain I stand ready to be called upon in times of disaster and under the worst circumstances. Most calls are usually a death notification or to comfort someone during an emergency. I also make myself available as a resource to officers and his or her family in a personal time of crises. I make sure to be always prepared to serve the members or my department as a trusted friend and someone who really cares.

When I arrive at the station, the officers always make me feel so welcome. Our officers work under intense on-the-job stress and danger and whenever I come by the station, my first duty is to make sure the officers feel that my presence brings some sanity into an insane world.

One of the scenarios I am often involved with is a death notification after an accident, crime or-most commonly-a suicide. It is the role of the officer to make sure that the family's questions regarding the cause of death are answered. The officer knows the facts of the case and the chaplain is there to help the family contact other family members and their Pastor who may be able to further assist the family. In many cases, the family will ask me for a prayer and some comfort at that time.

In many of these cases, the officer who is involved may also need comfort and help in coming to grips with the dark side of his or her job. It is not easy to have to go out to a home and tell the family that their son or daughter has just been killed. It is not easy to pick up what is left of a life at the scene of a fatal accident. It is in moments like these that the emotionally grueling element of law enforcement work comes crystal clear.

Sometimes I find myself in the dark of night ministering to people when they feel that their whole world has been destroyed by a tragic event or just chatting with one of the officers about problems at home. Being a Chaplain brings the peace of God to those who serve and protect our communities.

Ask the Chaplain

Do you have a question you would like to ask me? Please share it and I assure you that I will answer.

Again, let me remind you that no question is out of bounds. Your job as a police officer is among the most difficult in the world, not just on a physical and emotional level, but on a spiritual level as well.

You fight the good fight and by helping answer question you may have, I feel that I am fulfilling my mission, which is to help you bear the burdens of your mission as an officer.

E-mail Chaplain David Gardner

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need". Hebrews 4:16





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