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Police chaplains strive to be supportive and caring figures in variety of difficult situations

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Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2008 10:00 pm

My phone rings at 3 a.m. It is a Lodi Police dispatcher who is calling me because my name is at the top of police chaplain call-out roster.

I'm informed of a critical incident in which the police officer in attendance has requested a chaplain - a "critical incident" being any incident of a critical nature that involves police-related issues in which the victim or their family members and loved ones are in need of spiritual support. Dispatch gives me the nature of the incident, the address where it took place and the name of the attending officer.

Upon arrival at the scene I approach the officer, who advises me on what has taken place, along with the names of the victims and family members before I enter the family premises or site of the tragedy. Once I acquaint myself with the family, I offer prayer and spiritual comfort. This frees the police officer to do the work that is necessary in that particular situation.

The situations vary: from somebody simply requesting a chaplain to talk, to a police officer wanting a chaplain to attend a death notification with them, the tragedy of a SIDS call, an accident, an unattended death and many more, too numerous to mention. As chaplains, we strive to be a loving, supportive presence, regardless of the nature of the situation.

The Lodi Police Chaplain organization consists of eight members which include Larry Beck, Bill Cummins, Chris Guadiz, Shawn Keller, Gumaro Miranda, Phil Orosco, Rabbi Dr. Raphael Pazo and myself.

Although we each bring to the Chaplain organization our uniqueness of personality and different religious backgrounds, we all have one thing in common, and that is to bear witness to the love and power of our deity to all public safety officers, their families and the community they serve. We give comfort, hope, encouragement and loving support wherever and whenever it is needed. We honor one another's differences and support one another as a team. I've not hesitated to call upon them when I feel the need for their loving support.

The Lodi Police Chaplain organization is administered by an autonomous board of directors and the chief of police. Our board liaison is Lodi Police Captain Gary Benincasa, whose efforts on our behalf are greatly appreciated by us all. He is diligent in our police training and highly supportive to our needs. He is always there for us in whatever manner possible, enhancing our knowledge and capabilities as police chaplains We also greatly appreciate the steadfast, hard work and support we get from Police Support Services Division Secretary Julie Wall, whose many efforts on our behalf keep the necessary materials, reservations and countless other things flowing in a timely manner.

I personally feel that the incredible sense of fulfillment I derive from being a law enforcement chaplain can compare to no other, and has to be the "still, small voice" of God telling me that I'm in the right place doing His work, which allows me to experience the revelation of my completeness. It is an honor and privilege to be a member of the Lodi Police Chaplains.

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