Thursday, March 03, 2011
Law And Older
A friend at church, who is a police officer, sent this picture to me the other day. It looks like any picture of a policeman on a motorcycle, but if you look really close to the word just above the rear tire you will see that it says Chaplain. I replied to him that if I got one of those, I might still be a Police Chaplain today.
I have a lot of great memories of my days as a Police Chaplain from 1980-88 with the Fairfax County Police Department. It was nice to represent my church, help and support our local police, and learn how to deal with extreme crisis situations that I never would have experienced in normal ministry. In some ways, it was also my way of serving my country since I never spent time in the military, which I had always planned to do as I was growing up.
I am thankful for the friendships, experiences, and opportunities to serve that it offered me. I think I was widely accepted by the guys at my station, and they called on me regularly when they needed my help. I also have a lot of difficult memories that occasionally pop back into my head at weird times. Memories of being at the scene of suicides, homicides, fatalities, accidental deaths, and deaths by natural causes. The toughest ones, ever after all these years, are the ones involving children and teens. I can tell you from experience that TV can never capture the real world of crime, tragedy, and personal loss that is at real life scenes. As much as I like them, all the CSI, NCIS, and Police dramas miss the mark more than they hit it. And then there were all those death notifications that I did, especially those first couple years of being a Chaplain. I was good at it because I learned how to do it right. I even ended up teaching a class on how to do it for officers and investigators. It was nice to feel like I helped and was there to guide folks during traumatic times, but it was emotionally draining - especially when I didn't do it regularly. That may sound strange, but the more often you do those kind of things, the better the mind is at coping with it. When it was once a month in stead of once a week, it was much harder to walk way and put it behind me.
Anyway, the picture did bring back memories. Every time I look at it, I am proud of the little framed collage hanging in my office with my Police badge, pocket insert, pins, and a couple pictures of those Chaplain days. Donna had that made for me several years ago, and it reminds me of some very special classes I took at the famous University of Hard Knocks.