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SEMINAR: The Role of Chaplaincy


  • Understanding the Role and Boundaries
  • Recognizing Good Chaplains


The Chaplain model has been widely used for decades in the military setting, providing comfort, encouragement, and personal help for war weary warriors in both battle and peacetime circumstances. Within the law enforcement / first responder community, the role of the Chaplain is often filled by local clergy. More recently, that role is being filled by both active and retired first responders who understand the culture unique to the law enforcement and first responder world. The need for Chaplains arises out of the many issues faced in their culture, ranging from carnage witnessed at crime scenes, such as Newtown, Aurora, or Littleton, or domestic violence, traffic accidents, and sexual or child related crimes. Too often, those who witness such things deny the emotion, hiding them behind a defense mechanism – a Cast Iron Shield. Moreover, stress in the work environment, financial issues at home, and marital collapse – 75% of officers and 87% of emergency responders divorce – 40% are involved in domestic violence. Unattended, the officers seek relief, some through self medication, some by rage, others by suicide.

Chaplains provide an opportunity to be a pressure release, a safe haven where trust and confidentiality are cornerstones. This seminar will address three key components: the need for Chaplains, the role and boundaries of Chaplains, and how to identify and groom an effective Chaplain.

At the conclusion of this seminar, participants should be able to:

  1. Understand the function of Chaplains and why to use them
  2. Know the boundaries for Chaplaincy
  3. Grasp the partnership of Chaplains with agencies and their officers / first responders
  4. Understand the best options in selecting Chaplains
  5. Identify best practices and policies for their agency in utilizing Chaplains


1. The Role of the Chaplain

a. What does A Chaplain do?

b, What a Chaplain does not do

c. Confidentiality

2. Chaplaincy Boundaries

a. Pastor vs. Chaplain

b. Partnership with other organizations, i.e. Safe Call Now

c. Chaplains and the Separation of Church and State

d. Knowing their limitations, legally and professionally

3. Agency Policy for Chaplains

a. Establishing an agency policy in writing

b. Sample policy

4, Choosing the Right Chaplain or Team

a. What is the best fit – Pastor or First Responder

b. One Chaplain for All Purposes or a Main Chaplain and a Pastoral Corp

c. Training options

Robert Michaels served with the 229th MP Battalion (VANG) and was a Detective with Norfolk (VA) Police Department. He is the CEO / National Chaplain of Serve & Protect, and the Tennessee FOP State Chaplain.  Rob is a graduate of Columbia International University (BA/Biblical Education) and Wheaton College (MA/Communications)

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