The Chaplain's Notebook


It is indeed my pleasure to write this article and say an encouraging word to you. With the bad and disturbing publicity concerning officer-related misconduct this past year, some of you have lost hope. I am aware that fatigue, frustration, resentment and declining morale can lead to stress and diminished job performance.

Let us think back to how excited you were when you got the job and entered the Academy. For some of you it was a lifelong dream, while for others it was a career change, or some were following the career path of parents and relatives. Whatever the case, you all had one mantra, which was to rid the earth of all bad people and make our planet safe. Always remember that some of the most esteemed professions are law enforcement, ministers, doctors, nurses, firefighters and teachers. Please keep in mind that it takes special people like you to provide protection for people every day.

You wake up every day before your shift, get dressed, leave your family, go to work, put on your uniform/Batman cape, attend briefing and hit the street. You put yourselves in harm’s way, knowing you may not go back home because of the nature of your jobs. You do this great work because you love what you do, and you want to make a difference. You show courage protecting the weak, you defend the innocent, you run into burning buildings, you face threats and return fire when needed, you rescue babies, you even come to work on your day off to help solve a case, and the list goes on and on.

With all that you do, it seems it is never good enough in the eyes of the public. You get scrutinized by the media, judges, lawyers, people you rescue, your peers and sometimes management, but you keep getting up and going to work. You continue fighting the good fight. It can be stressful. I see it in your faces and your body language. At times, I see you are just tired and trying to hold on. I can imagine what you are thinking: “Man, why doesn’t the public get it?”

The fact is, as much as people complain about law enforcement, they call when they need you the most. In their hearts, they are glad when you show up to help them. Please, always keep that in mind. The job you do does matter and is needed in the eyes of the public. Sometimes, they may have encountered a deputy who was rude before they interact with good, kind and caring ones like you. That is why it is important that you keep each other accountable and encouraged. Regularly remind each other why you became a peace officer. You cannot perform at a high level if your morale is low. So at times you may need to take a few days and go somewhere to relax, do something fun, recharge and then come back to fight the good fight. In order to not have deputy burnout, it is important to take time for yourself.

As a chaplain, spending time with you, I have grown to appreciate your work, and I have become one of your biggest advocates. I take pride in working with you and providing spiritual care for you. When I am riding around with you or traveling the trains with you, you make me feel welcome and a part of you. I know what you do is hard because I am there with you at times, but please know that greater than 90 percent of each community you serve loves your work and appreciates what you do. As much as you are reprimanded by your supervisors and you feel like they don’t care, the truth is that they do care and they talk about your good work all the time. They just want you to be smart out there and continue to work hard.

In closing, I thank you for your service and for continually fighting the good fight. Keep the faith. Get to know your chaplain, because we are a wealth of resources and we are there for you. Take time to know and understand your captains and shift supervisors. Pick their brains and ask questions, because they are your greatest resource. Take the time to know the people in your community; they too are a great resource. It is OK to talk to God and seek guidance if you desire to do so. Again, talk to your chaplain and have his or her number on your speed-dial list. Keep getting up, suiting up and fighting the good fight, superhero, because what you do every day matters. Study and know your job well, and realize that God placed you in your job to do this great work. Take care of yourselves, and may God continue to bless you in all you do.

How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their assigned unit of assignment, or by calling Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500.