The Chaplain's Notebook


One of the most beautiful qualities and privileges police officers share is the bond of brotherly love. It is not written anywhere but it is sealed in our hearts. It is our culture. It is who we are.

Last summer, I was called to the hospital because a veteran deputy had suddenly passed. His spouse was in shock, sadness and sorrow. Tears rolled down her face. Physical and mental exhaustion consumed her. Her world, hopes and plans were collapsing. Nothing I could say could bring comfort. After praying and reading from the Scriptures, I stepped out of the ER to gather myself. And there, in the parking lot, dozens of our brothers and sisters had quietly and orderly gathered in the unbearable summer heat.

I quickly went back and shared this with the deputy’s wife. She looked at me. And at that moment, for the first time, I saw comfort and gratitude in her eyes. When I escorted her and our fallen brother, body now draped in an American flag, out of the hospital, we found, framing the door, two long lines of deputies — an honor guard at attention, silent, shoulder to shoulder, solemnly saluting as we passed.

I had never met the veteran deputy but I knew him just by looking into the faces of those who had gathered to honor him. No order had been issued and yet you came, enduring the heat for hours, paying your fallen brother and his family the highest respect. No doubt in my mind this veteran looked down from paradise with tears of praise: “My brothers and sisters, thank you.” As King David wrote in Psalm 133:1: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”

A couple of years ago, I was selected for jury duty in a criminal case.
“Any of you have good reason to not be a juror in my court?” the judge snapped.
I raised my hand. “Your Honor, I am an LASD chaplain, and I am all for law enforcement.”
The judge looked sternly down. “Are you telling me you don’t have doubts about police?”
“Not at all!” I answered
He paused, eyes penetrating, “Let me ask you this then. If a live, high-voltage wire were lying on the ground and a deputy asked you to pick it up, would you?”
“Of course,” I answered without hesitation.
Now he took off his glasses. “But why?”
I raised my chin. “Your Honor, with all due respect, your hypothetical scenario would never happen. My deputies would never put me in harm’s way. They would give their lives to protect me. As I would for them. They have my back, and I have theirs.”
Turning to the bailiff and suppressing a small smile, the judge said, “Get him out of my court. He’s excused.”
As I walked out, the court deputy nodded — and smiled at me as well.

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