At present, the public sees the police as forceful representatives of law enforcement. They deliver a prompt response in situations of crisis to citizens. However, the scope of the police’s helping methods is limited. At the same time, chaplaincy volunteers working alongside some police departments can comfort people and diffuse stressful situations. Thus, chaplains take care of the victim’s well-being, while the police are guarding public security. The proposed chaplaincy program can connect the community to the police, provide the survivors with much-needed emotional and social support, and enable a wholesome approach to crisis response.
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Exposure to crime is a highly stressful situation for any person. Even though the police do their best to establish the physical security of the population, they cannot adequately address the psychological needs of the crime victims with the limited resources they have. There are support services for the victims of various types of intense emotional stress separate from law enforcement. However, Williams and Rheingold (2015) found that few survivors knew about the available support services. Most of the survivors have encountered the police, but after that, they had to seek based on the limited information they had (Williams & Rheingold, 2015). Notably, the survivors who attended crisis services rated chaplaincy the highest out of all services they encountered (Williams & Rheingold, 2015). Therefore, by launching a Police Chaplaincy Program, law enforcement will be able to make a highly effective emotional support service available to the victims.
Moreover, violent crimes go beyond individuals and produce rippling distress in the whole community. When one survivor of a violent event is hurting, people around him or she also begin to suffer. Thus, it is crucial for the community’s well-being that people subject to crime have a chaplaincy program at their disposal. As said in the Bible:
so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (New International Version Bible, 2011, 1 Corinthians 12:25-27)
Undeniably, it is vital to employ chaplains of various religions, since modern society is culturally and religiously diverse. They will certainly all be able to use the same practical tools to support hurting people. It is crucial, though, that the chaplain and the people establish connection and understanding, for which a common foundation is helpful. Aside from that, chaplains might be prominent members of their congregations, which could give them additional authority. Generally, people need to trust those bringing them peace and security for it to work, and chaplains either have a familiar crowd’s trust or can quickly build it based on shared faith.
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Weaknesses and Strengths
The chief principal chaplains use when working with the survivors of violence is the ministry of presence. It involves a judgment-free presence as well as supportive listening. Many chaplains observe that merely being with a victim, sharing their experience, and expressing willingness to listen is enough to comfort them (Gouse, 2016). Furthermore, they point out that the chaplain’s presence at the scene of a crisis often helps diffuse a situation (Gouse, 2016). Chaplains also believe that the therapeutic effect of the ministry of presence lies in caring for the survivors and indirectly reminding them about God’s presence (Gouse, 2016). According to the survivors, the chaplain’s presence is highly helpful (Williams & Rheingold, 2015). Since the chaplains employ the tools that reduce the stress of the individuals in crisis scenarios, inviting them to work alongside the police can help a positive social effect.
However, it is essential to note that an exceptional situation might go awry. Some chaplains arrived at a scene of a crisis, expecting to bring peace and normalcy to the situation, yet caused tension instead (Gouse, 2016). Hence, the police should be careful about inviting chaplains to emergency scenes. In general, nonetheless, it seems that chaplains with appropriate training can be helpful to the police and the general public in a crisis.
To conclude, chaplains are efficient in addressing the spiritual and emotional parts of the human soul. These skills can help a hurting community to overcome the adverse outcomes of a violent crime, emergency, or crisis. Chaplains working alongside the police may ease the suffering of the survivors and accelerate the healing process. They can also diffuse the tensions in the communities and potentially prevent potential victims from harm. However, it is not enough to employ chaplains as volunteers. In contrast, they should be partners to the law enforcement, receive specialized training to protect them from risks of emergencies, and minimize the likelihood of chaplains’ presence, increasing the turbulence of crisis. Furthermore, the official police chaplaincy program will make it easier for the people in need to find help by directly connecting the survivors who, in most cases, meet the police upon the stressful incident and the support system of chaplains. Overall, the proposed police chaplaincy program can create stronger links between law enforcement and the public, heal the survivors of violent crime, emergencies, and other highly stressful situations, and improve the community’s emotional well-being.
Gouse, V. (2016). An investigation of an expanded police chaplaincy model: Police chaplains’ communications with local citizens in crisis. Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, 70(3), 195-202. Web.
New International Version Bible. (2011). Zondervan. Web.
Williams, J. L., & Rheingold, A. A. (2015). Barriers to care and service satisfaction following homicide loss: associations with mental health outcomes. Death Studies, 39(1), 12-18. Web.