Starting or Managing a Chaplaincy
ICPC supports chaplains and assists law enforcement agencies in developing local chaplaincy programs in a variety of circumstances.
- Local, state, or national agencies anywhere in the world that would like to sponsor a chaplaincy within their agencies
- Agencies that have existing chaplaincy programs that would like to increase the level of capability of their chaplains or further develop the role of chaplains within their agencies
- Individuals serving in ministry in local communities who would like to help law enforcement agencies start a chaplaincy.
Keep reading to learn how ICPC can assist you in starting and managing your chaplaincy.
An Introduction to Law Enforcement Chaplaincy
No one is confronted with more situations that demoralize and create emotional, mental, and spiritual burdens than today's law enforcement officer. These burdens also affect the officer's family and other members of his or her agency. Even for officers who have a strong faith, their personal ministers, pastors, priests, or other clergy are not necessarily aware of the particular problems and dangers faced by officers. As a result, law enforcement agencies need specialized guidance, counseling, and assistance for their officers, families, and communities.
A law enforcement chaplain is a person with special interest, experience, and training to provide pastoral care in the high-powered and often dangerous world of law enforcement. This spiritual support and encouragement is offered without cost or the taint of proselytizing to all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, creed, or religion. Chaplains are led by their own faith traditions to be available and ready to serve those in need. They participate in the law enforcement officers' workplace, listening with empathy and experience, advising calmly in the midst of turmoil and danger, and offering assistance when appropriate or requested. This ministry can provide a source of strength to law enforcement officers and civilian employees, their families, and members of the community.
A Spiritual Lifeline
Watch this video to see why Sheriff Larry Ashley describes chaplains as "a spiritual lifeline" for the officers in his agency.
Defining the Role of Law Enforcement Chaplains
We are honored to know that chaplains are hard at work providing assistance to members of law enforcement agencies. Because of the efforts of ICPC and the agencies that sponsor chaplaincy programs, chaplains are well-trained to maintain a high level of professionalism, observing the protocols of their agencies as they serve alongside officers and other agency personnel. Perhaps most importantly, professional chaplains provide a ministry of presence that serves as the backdrop for every thought, word, and deed.
To support chaplains in providing spiritual support and encouragement, ICPC offers this guidance for agencies and chaplains to define the role of chaplains. Among many other things, professional law enforcement chaplains
support on-duty officers with their availability when they are requested for any type of assistance, including
- assisting officers at crime scenes and death scenes, including conducting death notifications as needed
- assisting officers as needed while on ride-alongs, including at crime scenes, disasters, and accidents, or with victims of domestic violence, transients, or homeless persons
- offer scripture readings and prayer at agency roll calls
- serve as a liaison with other clergy or between their agencies and the community
- support the entire law enforcement community, including sworn and non-sworn officers, support staff, and their families in a wide variety of areas, including
- providing guidance in response to religious or spiritual questions
- offering training or guidance on stress management, burnout, ethics, family life, or retirement
- providing assistance to officers and their families when someone in their family has died
- visiting sick or injured officers and/or agency personnel and their families
- providing guidance as needed at times of officer death or injury
- serve on review boards and awards committees, as requested
- offer prayer for special occasions and ceremonies and for agency personnel and their families facing difficult personal situations
- lead weddings, funerals, baptisms, dedications, or retirement celebrations
- serve as an agency representative for community events honoring law enforcement
- provide support and encouragement for all agency personnel and their families as needed as part of an agency crisis response team or peer support team
- maintain the confidentiality of the conversations they have with officers and other agency personnel
- support officers as they are, providing spiritual support and encouragement without judgment and building credibility to assure officers and their families of the chaplain's sincere desire to love them
Setting Expectations for Law Enforcement Chaplains
As you begin to work through the details of starting or growing your chaplaincy, please explore the information we have developed on setting expectations for chaplains. From ICPC's Canon of Ethics for Law Enforcement Chaplains to the list of Qualities and Qualifications for Law Enforcement Chaplains (both linked below), you'll find that we have been down this road before and are willing and able to help you.
As you consider your next steps, consider these options.
- Learn more about specific liaison officer training offered to agency personnel.
- Join ICPC to coordinate your efforts with other chaplains and agencies.
- Contact us to ask how ICPC can support you and the officers in your agency or community.