Leesburg Police Dept. Revives Chaplain Program

The Leesburg Police Department has brought back its chaplains program.

It is the first time the department has had a chaplain program in almost 20 years ago. Pastor George Hammond, of Bethel Presbyterian Church in Leesburg, was a part of the program that ran from 1995 to 2000 under former police chief Keith Stiles. He now joins the new group of chaplains, which also includes the Rev. Daniel Velez-Rivera, of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Leesburg; and Pastor Jason Lamb, of Rising Church, also in Leesburg. Deacon Holly Hanbach, also of St. Gabriel’s, is undergoing training to join the program.

Hammond said he was excited about the program starting back up, as he saw how helpful it was to officers in its first iteration.

“There were times when they felt like it was helpful to have a chaplain on site,” Hammond said.

His work as a chaplain included coming along on ride-alongs to give officers an opportunity to talk about things they were dealing with. They would also accompany officers on death notifications, to assist both them and the families.

For Chief Gregory Brown, bringing back the chaplaincy program achieves a number of goals.

“The reinstatement of the chaplain program not only supports our mission to provide superior customer service to our community, businesses, and visitors, but also supports our officers internally by offering a unique spiritual resource,” he said.

For Lamb, becoming a part of the chaplain program is about “being a resource in any way I can.”

“It’s an opportunity to serve the town and those who serve the town well,” he said. “It boils down to a desire to serve and love in any way that’s required. The opportunity came up and it was a no-brainer.”

Lamb comes to the program with a bit of special experience, serving as chaplain for different sports teams and as the current fellowship director for the Tuscarora High School boys’ basketball team.

Velez-Rivera is the latest chaplain to be commissioned, and the first Latino member. In a statement, he noted his belief that “service to God doesn’t stop at [the] congregation or with members of [the] church affiliation”, rather that he was ordained to serve all people of God. It’s another opportunity for both Velez-Rivera and the greater congregation to partner with “diverse community organizations to better serve the community.”

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

Police Chief Gregory Brown welcomes Rev. Daniel Velez-Rivera to the town’s chaplaincy program.

One thought on “Leesburg Police Dept. Revives Chaplain Program

  • 2018-05-25 at 6:52 am
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    Merciful Father in heaven, look down in Your love upon all those who protect us and ours from the ravages of serious accidents. Grant them the courage and skills to carry out their duties well and safely. When they must go into the face of danger, be by their side during each crisis situation. Watch over their families, ever reminding them that those who work in emergency response positions are also in Your loving care. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

    Police chaplains serve in a wide variety of ways. They may be called upon to assist in death notifications, assist and support victims in times of crisis, respond to suicide incidents, and serve as part of a crisis response team. They visit sick or injured personnel, are a resource for counseling for members of the department and their families, and serve as a liaison with other clergy in the community. They are called upon to deliver the invocation or benediction at public ceremonies as representatives of the police department. They also are on hand to serve inside the police department.

    Police work is underappreciated, and can rapidly shift from long periods of boredom to moments of genuine fear. Having someone on your team to talk to about this, not as a fellow cop but as a genuine listener, is invaluable.

    The position of police chaplain is typically a special, non-certified position that carries no law enforcement powers, but does require that person have or develop an unique understanding of police work and the challenges law enforcement officers and their families face on a daily basis. This understanding enables them to be a very effective part of the department, assisting inside and outside the patrol car.

    The role of police chaplain can be a very demanding position as their services can be requested at all hours of the night, under all kinds of conditions. They are bound by the same ethics as law enforcement officers, especially when it comes to confidentiality, as well as by departmental policies and procedures.

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