Lakewood Police Department is seeking volunteers for a chaplain unit pilot program.
The unit will consist of volunteer clergy who provide emotional and spiritual support and guidance to police department employees and their families. The unit will also provide aid and support to the community during designated emergencies.
The program is part of the of the Support Services Division under direct supervision of the Volunteer Program Coordinator.
“Right now we’re looking for three to four ordained or licensed clergy members, preferably with experience as a military or police chaplain,” said Lakewood Police Volunteer Coordinator Al Williams.
Within a year of employment, members must attend a chaplain academy through the state patrol, Williams said.
Officer Jim Coleman, division chief of the patrol unit, said the idea to start the unit came about a year ago from members of the faith-based community, which reached out to the department to see if they’d be interested in a chaplain program.
“I wasn’t sure how it would be received, so I discussed it with our command staff and we decided to see what our employees — both sworn in and civilians — thought,” he said. “We received around 340 responses out of around 400 people, and a little over 67 percent were in favor. There was really a strong interest.”
Based on that response, Coleman started researching chaplain programs both locally and nationwide, and started to put the structure and procedure of the program together.
Once he had arrived at that point, it was up to Williams to take the project over and find volunteers.
“We’ve found that during serious incidents, the chaplains can really be there for support,” Williams said. “They can also provide a service to the public by being able to take the stress off officers who are responding to incidents by helping the victims.”
Coleman said the program will start small for now, but if it is received well, it could expand in the future.
Those interested should contact Williams at 303-987-7105.