The Chaplain's Notebook


Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a chaplain, and why someone would want to be a chaplain? Well, first it takes godly compassion, and a lot of it. A chaplain needs understanding, patience and commitment. They also love people, are good listeners, are sensitive and able to relate, and stand ready to serve. If this sounds like the heart of a servant, it is. Being a chaplain comes with the knowledge that you are called to do this and you can’t shake it.

So, a chaplain’s duty is not only to perform religious support activities (e.g., weddings and funerals), but also to provide spiritual care, counseling, coaching and instruction. Not all chaplains are pastors, but each has an equally committed spiritual calling to serve others. Chaplains can be of any faith or denomination, and every chaplain must respect, accept and be sensitive to other people’s views, values and faith traditions.

A chaplain should have several skill sets, such as teaching and the ability to articulate well. They should also have good verbal communication skills so they may speak (i.e., minister) in times of tragedy, crisis and emotional upheaval. In the last several decades, we have seen an increasing need for chaplains in the workplace, schools, sports, college campuses, hospitals, nursing homes, government entities, law enforcement, branches of the military, the FBI, fire departments, the Secret Service, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, just to name a few. I personally have met chaplains in many of these categories. The need to recruit more chaplains is everywhere, especially in law enforcement.

The Chaplaincy Program with the LASD is on the move to recruit more chaplains to meet the growing need. Chaplains must be trained and certified and serve a specific number of hours each month.

Have you noticed an increasing number of chaplains at stations, facilities and courthouses? Have you noticed more chaplains in their new uniforms of white shirts and dark trousers? Have you wondered what is going on and why are they there? Well, the LASD Chaplaincy Program is going in a new direction. The plan is to recruit more volunteer chaplains to be available for deputies, as well as non-sworn staff. The chaplains are making themselves available to speak with deputies if they choose. We know that deputies, like every other human being on the planet, sometimes hesitate to talk or even ask questions of the clergy. However, the goal is to make them aware that chaplains are available exclusively for them and their families. Chaplains welcome those needed conversations.

There are about 35 chaplains now on board from different and diverse backgrounds of faith, religion and beliefs. Our role is not to proselytize, but to support and provide counseling if desired. Conversations are completely confidential, at no cost, and are available 24/7. If you desire to speak to a chaplain, one could be available through your station, or you can contact Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500 and request to speak to a chaplain. They will be glad to speak with you.