What does a Law Enforcement Chaplain Do?

The duties and responsibilities of law enforcement professionals can expose employees to mentally painful and highly stressful situations. Employees can experience stress and trauma from significant events and performing their daily duties. These events can negatively impact job performance and can cause emotional stress in their professional and personal lives. Police chaplains are a valuable resource because their education, experience, and training, help them understand the nature of law enforcement and equip them to support and serve all members within the department. Law enforcement employees may choose not to discuss certain situations that affect their work or personal lives with co-workers or family members to avoid undue concern or negative judgment. While they may contact their clergy to discuss sensitive issues, employees may also benefit from the services of a police chaplain in a unique way regarding issues related to their law enforcement jobs.

  • A Law Enforcement Chaplain’s primary role is to support members of the police department including all sworn and non-sworn officers, support staff, and their families.
  • Law Enforcement Chaplains are licensed professionals who offer a credible ministry of presence to employees of all faith backgrounds with the utmost confidentiality.
  • Chaplains develop relationships, answer spiritual questions and provide emotional, mental, and spiritual support.
  • Chaplains can provide individual counseling and provide wellness assistance to officers inside and outside the department.
  • Chaplains provide support and service in critical incident situations; officer-involved shootings, line of duty deaths, death notifications, assistance to employees dealing with sickness, death, loss, and conflict within their family.
  • Chaplains can serve as a liaison with other community clergy and between law enforcement and the community.
  • Chaplains can represent the department for community events honoring law enforcement; offer prayers for special occasions, ceremonies, dedications, retirements, and swearing-in ceremonies.
  • Chaplains can officiate end-of-life care and funerals for employees and their loved ones.

Quick Facts about Law Enforcement Chaplains…

  • Are protected by the Federal Government
  • Provide humanitarian aid that supports wellness for mind, body, and spirit
  • Serve as volunteers for a Police Department
  • May be citizens, retired military, deputized or sworn law enforcement officers
  • Cannot have a criminal conviction, or any evidence of criminal or moral failure
  • Carefully screened and vetted through ICPC
  • Must be ordained for at least five years within their faith community
  • Represent their own faith, but must minister to people of all faith backgrounds equally without prejudice
  • Must keep up with professional trainings relevant to unique law enforcement needs and concerns
  • Must wear credentials identifying them as a law enforcement chaplain while serving
  • Should be well trained and knowledgeable about community medical, mental health, and other helping resources
  • Must not proselytize or try to convert an employee to any one specific religion or denomination

Connect with me by email at:  trish@chaplainresource.org

The Lemon Test

Chaplaincy is protected under the Lemon vs. Kurtzman ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. It is considered a necessary function of government to care for the holistic mind, body, and spirit of its citizenry. Chaplaincy is not a function that forms religion; therefore, it is protected under this law. The Lemon test was formulated by Chief Justice Warren Burger. The court in Lemon v. Kurtzman ruled three requirements for government concerning religion, they are:

1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose. (Such as a Chaplain providing crisis response or humanitarian aid for mind, body, and spirit during times of crisis.)

2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion. (Such as a Chaplain providing aid to people of all faith backgrounds and refusing to solicit members for a specific religion or faith organization.)

3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion. (Such as a Chaplain providing temporary crisis response services to people in need of humanitarian aid for mind, body, and spirit outside the confines of a church or faith organization.)

Did you know that there were full time paid Chaplains appointed to the very first Continental Congress in 1737? Chaplains have faithfully served the federal government, all branches of the military, and both houses of congress for over 280 years.