In the aftermath of emergency situations, victims and police officers often face a host of negative effects on their emotional wellbeing. This creates a need for support services to aid in the mental wellness of both victims and officers. One program that provides these services is Asheville Police Department (APD) police chaplains. A police chaplain serves as a support system for law enforcement in times of crisis and can also be called out to a scene for victim support.
Chaplains are certified volunteers who are in good standing with their respective faith-based organizations. They assist in making notifications to families of individuals who have been seriously injured or killed, visiting sick or injured employees, participate in funerals and other ceremonies for active and retired employees, serve as a resource for officers dealing with traumatic incidents, and provide an additional link between the department and the community. Chaplains accompany officers on patrol and serve as a calming presence in everything from traffic stops to domestic disputes.
Police chaplains have served APD and the Asheville community for about 40 years. Tom Flowers has been a volunteer chaplain at APD for almost two years. He does it to support the people he admires and the work that they do. Flowers’ volunteer hours mostly take the form of ride-alongs, which he does several times a week. These ride-alongs allow him to get to know officers and build relationships with them. Flowers has found the experience to be heart expanding.
“It’s amazing how law enforcement personnel have such integrity, graciousness, kindness, and intense commitment to helping others,” Flowers said. “They have the willingness to put themselves on the line, go the extra mile, and make a difference in the community they live in.”
APD’s Chaplain Coordinator Mark Graham is working to set up a program to coordinate the preparation of home-cooked meals for officers who are recovering from job-related injuries and their families. Graham also spearheaded APD’s partnership with local nonprofit Hearts With Hands. The nonprofit provides boxes of food and hygiene products to APD officers, who then carry the packages in their vehicles and hand them out to people who may be in need.
“The support officers and the community have received from our chaplains over the years has been indispensable,” said Captain Joe Silberman, the program’s APD liaison.
Are you interested in becoming a volunteer police chaplain at APD? Contact Captain J.E.Silberman at firstname.lastname@example.org.