I remember well one of the emphases of a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, wherein we were taught to be a "non-anxious" presence. The chaplain is to be a means of the grace of God in the midst of the worst of situations. Among other duties, and subject to the agency, he or she may be trained in some of the same practical aspects of patrol as the officer: defensive tactics/PPCT, Verbal Judo, pepper spray, firearms, restraints, radio--the list goes on. Death notifications are incidents where it is especially helpful to have a properly trained and oriented chaplain along. But the chaplain is primarily there to be. By their presence, they represent God. In the middle of gang violence. In the patrol car on a ride-along. While the family arrives to see their grandmother whisked away by the hearse. At 0330 when you just have to ask that question or, as Melodie Swan put in a recent column here at Officer.com, need to bitch. At times when an officer is fed up with his or her second job, sergeant, lieutenant, wife, boyfriend--whatever the case may be. That is part of what properly trained chaplains do.
"Chaplains" are trained and exposed to a wide variety of situations on a regular basis. They are in touch with the common person. Indeed, they are the common person in whose lives the grace of God becomes real and has a chance to be shared with others. For some spiritual leaders not really doing the work of a chaplain, it is a plain case of doing the best they know how. They observe a need and do what they can in the best way they can. But in today's world, with the wide variety of excellent resources, training, and networks, there is almost no excuse. Let's continue to work together and confront the challenges of the times in which we live. Let's help one another. Let's help do our part to serve and protect. In the best of times, in the worst of times. Authentic chaplaincy is challenging and very different from being a parish spiritual leader.
In the real world, shit happens. Through real chaplains, grace happens.