21 Mar SVPD Ministry
Most of our church is aware that I serve as a Chaplain with the Simi Valley Police Department. I don’t often mention it here, and thought I’d blog a bit about some of the calls I go out on.
SVPD has 5 Chaplains. The longest serving one is legendary in our city. Frank Witman served 28 years as Pastor of the Simi Valley United Methodist Church. He’s a hero in my eyes! He’s served as a Chaplain for the last 28, and was the first Chaplain in the history of the SVPD.
The next is Kurt Fredrickson. His legend is growing (in GOOD ways!). Kurt and I share similar ministry paths. He started as a Youth pastor at Simi Valley Evangelical Covenant Church, eventually becoming the Senior Pastor there for about 20 years. About three years ago, he accepted a position at Fuller Theological Seminary as their Director of the DMin (Doctor of Ministry) program. Since he still lives in Simi Valley, he has continued his ministry as a SVPD Chaplain.
Then there is Denise Dunbar, who came on the Department same time I did in 2000. Her husband was a Sergeant then and she has served as a Youth Pastor at a Foursquare Church in Canoga Park.
Next is myself. This has been a long time dream of mine. My “fallback” career was law enforcement of some kind. A story for another day. I thoroughly enjoy my role in the SVPD!
Then we have Brian Clements, who serves as a Deacon at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church. Brian works for Ventura County as a Director of a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. He is a wonderful man!
We have an “auxiliary” member of our Chaplains Team who is NOT a Chaplain. Sgt. John Cooley retired from the LAPD a few years back and lives in Simi Valley. His last several years in the LAPD were invested in helping fellow officers as a Liaison with the LAPD Employees Assistance Plan. Over time, he became a specialist in Police funerals.
John works alongside us to help keep our eyes open to matters that aren’t spiritual, but are, in the lives of Officers and their families.
My last call was just last Friday at 5:00 am. A 55 year old wife and mother was found dead by her daughter and husband. I was called in to be with the family with the waiting period … waiting for the Coroner to arrive to assess the situation and advise the family of their next steps.
We call the Chaplains ministry a “ministry of presence”. Lots of people ask, “what do you say to them?” or “How do you know what to say?” Well, you don’t really. Most people will never remember what I said to them. They WILL remember that I was there and that I prayed and that I listened.
Our role as Chaplains is for both citizens AND Officers. Most people don’t stop to consider that what is traumatic for them may be traumatic for the Officers involved in their case, whatever it may entail. So we look out not only for victims and family members, but for Officers and Civilian employees as well.
For now, I’m rollin‘ 10-7!!