The Chaplain Program of the Hot Springs Police Department was re-organized in 2013. The department has actually utilized the services of a chaplain on an "as needed" basis for decades but only recently has the need for an active, organized Chaplaincy Program been recognized.
Chaplains working in specialized industries are not a new concept. Police, fire and military chaplains have lived and worked among “the troops” for centuries. Nobody knows exactly when the first chaplain came into being but the word "chaplain" dates back to the Middle Ages when the church assigned non-military clergymen the responsibility of providing pastoral care, medical attention and hospitality to the citizens in Kingdom’s most remote locations. Due to illness, injury or at times even necessity (as in the case of soldiers or travelers) many of these unfortunate people were simply unable to meet their own spiritual or physiological needs. In those days churches also served as community centers (often functioning as schools, hospitals, orphanages, etc. in addition to their normal purpose) so to mitigate the misery experienced by those in the wilderness small outposts, or tiny satellite churches known as chapels were established for them. The attending ministers assigned to these outposts, by virtue of their appointments as caretakers of the chapel, came to be known as a "Chaplains".
As civilization spread many of these outlying chapels were expanded and became huge monasteries. For a time chaplains attended to the sick and needy (many of whom were often wounded soldiers being pursued from distant battlefields or their sick and travel weary replacements) within the protective walls of these safe haven fortifications. Here a chaplain’s ever present pastoral duties frequently took a back seat to the urgency of preserving life and limb or the constant psychological aftercare of providing comfort and trusted companionship.
In more modern times - that is to say, from the Civil War to the present day conflicts in the Gulf regions - the primary purpose of the chaplaincy shifted from an exclusively pastoral ministry to a ministry of presence and availability. Whether the person in need is a police officer, a soldier or a citizen the chaplain's primary job is to listen, care and respond appropriately to any person's needs. Yes, during or after a crisis chaplains will still pray with a person, a family or with staff members if they are asked to do so, but in the absence of that request a chaplain does what chaplains do best: he's "there" if anyone should need him. In their official capacity the only belief that our chaplains hope to promote is the belief that everyone - regardless of who they are - is worthy of compassion, kindness and humanity especially at times when their burden is almost too much to bear alone.
Our Chaplains are prepared to assist with just about anything, from conducting funeral services and aiding with grief counseling to providing a calming voice or simply being “a friend” whenever somebody really needs one. They can also be especially helpful in crisis intervention situations, serve as important liaisons in cultural activities and they can prove to be invaluable resources of support in humanitarian programs of nearly any kind.
Finally, one of the chaplain’s most important roles is to serve as a highly visible reminder that hope is alive and well in a world that often seems to have more than its fair share of hardships. Their best work is done, not in the safety of an office or a church across town, but in the field at the very source of the suffering. Because of that you may see our chaplains in uniform at the scene of a crime or major incident where their services are needed. Although they may be in uniform they are not police officers. For safety purposes their uniforms will readily identify them to us and to you as "authorized personnel"; specialized counselors and members of our own community who volunteer their time, skills and services to help minimize the impact of the unfortunate events that sometimes occur.
Feel free to contact our chaplains and thank them for their generous and compassionate contributions to our community.
Chaplains' Responsibilities Within the Agency
- To assist personnel and/or their families in times of need or crisis, or when they feel the need for a neutral/outside person in whom to confide, or seek counseling and/or spiritual guidance
- To assist department personnel in making notifications to families of officers/employees who have been killed or seriously injured
- To serve in ceremonial functions, religious and civil ceremonies, funerals, and memorial services
- To provide in-service training to departmental employees in such areas as stress management, ethics, family life, parenting, etc
- To provide guidance to employees, when requested by those employees, regarding religious matters
- To offer prayer at special functions/occasions, when requested and available
- To serve as a resource in crisis situations such as hostage situations, suicidal subjects, etc
- To serve on boards, and/or other committees as directed by the Police Chief or his designee
- To serve as liaison between the department and other clergy in the community