The Chaplain's Notebook


Author and activist Bryant H. McGill is quoted as saying, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” You are all well versed in listening on the job, and even have the ability to listen to things that are not said in interviews, investigations, etc. However, how often does that translate back to relationships that are outside of your job?

Over the years, I have had the privilege of riding with many deputies, sometimes in the middle of some very dangerous situations, to say the least! I have seen first-hand how you put yourselves in harm’s way for the safety and well-being of the community, which means I have also seen first-hand how amazingly well you do your jobs.

I sometimes feel that the first folks to complain about cops are also the first ones to complain, “Where’s a cop when you need one!” As a result, I have asked myself: What are some life habits respectable deputies seem to have? One that comes immediately to mind is resiliency. The ability to fail and yet get back up and rebound from adversity. I know I am preaching to the choir when I say deputies face a lot of adversity.

There is pain and darkness on the streets. Sometimes pain and stress in the station, even at home. The question becomes not if we will deal with it, but how we will deal with it. Do we let that darkness overwhelm us, even in small ways (leading to anxiety, depression or burnout), or do we have the inner resources to recover? To go home to our families in a loving and healthy way? To find other sources of satisfaction in our lives (hobbies, exercise and so on)?

This is a good place to talk about the potential for faith and its healing power in our lives. Do we need a faith foundation? You are probably not surprised, but my answer is, “Yes. Absolutely!” Author Dinesh D’Souza says there are at least four clear benefits to having faith:
First, it gives us hope. There is less room for bitter or dark thoughts; less room for fear. With faith, death becomes a gateway to a new and better life. Second, “belief infuses life itself with an enhanced sense of meaning and purpose” and joy. Third, belief gives us moral hope, to live ethically, to transmit morality to our children. In an afterlife, we can see cosmic justice, good rewarded and evil punished. “Morality becomes both easier and more worthwhile in this framework.” Finally, there is evidence that faith not only makes life better, but makes us better people. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt cites surveys that show, on average, those who have faith are just well and happier!

So if others stand to benefit from lives full of hope, purpose and charity, why not you? There will be dark hours, for sure. With faith, I believe we can master them with skill (as the Buddhists say). We can keep walking tough while supple and adaptable, professional while kindhearted. One more way to keep strong for the next life challenge or even the next traffic stop.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea (Psalm 46:1–2).

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