Fla. Police Chaplains Help Officers Cope With Trauma


After last week's fatal shootings of two South Florida police officers, a group of volunteers has been working to help fellow officers cope with the loss.

"Sometimes unfortunately, there's nothing for us to do except pick up the pieces of what's left," said Pastor Mario Duque.

Duque doesn’t carry a gun or a badge. He races to the worst kinds of crime scenes to help individual police officers when the burden becomes too much to bear.

"When gunshots are going off, we're all running away. Those men and women who wear the badge are running toward the gunshots to see how they can help," Duque said.

Duque is a South Florida police chaplain. The force is made up strictly of volunteers.

"I see us as one more resource," Duque said.

They put their religious affiliations temporarily aside and make themselves available at all hours. Chaplains were there when two police officers died in the line of duty last week. They were there in the difficult days that followed to help the community of heroes grieve.

"Pastors and police officers, we have to be general practitioners. We get called to all kinds of scenes," said Duque.

Rabbi Phineas Webarman said sometimes a shoulder to cry on can be just as effective as therapy.

"Psychologists are paid and take a long time. Chaplains volunteer. Those are quickly," Webarman said.

He and Duque are proud to help the men and women who so often help the public.

"Everybody has a limitation. Sometimes a situation can be beyond an individual's capability of handling it," Webarman said.

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