Chaplain: Murder on Oak Ridge Dr.

Normally I do not re-post articles, but I send this out to all my LEO and fire friends. Know when to ask for help and ASK. This article comes from, so it is written for the police perspective. But trauma can happen to any of us. When it does, do you know what to do or who to talk to?

Chaplain: Murder on Oak Ridge Dr.
by Fr. John Harth
Updated: March 25, 2011

She was elderly and lived alone. There were no signs of forced entry; it is presumed that she knew her killer.

The arriving officer called in detectives. As the hour grew later, he asked if the Lieutenant was going to call a chaplain. The “ell tee” allowed as how there was no need, as no family was local. The officer replied, “What about me?”

This has been a rare situation over 23 years of chaplaincy: an on-scene officer requesting a chaplain through someone else. Some consider asking for help in any form a sign of weakness. Time has shown that those who suppress their feelings eventually have them come back to haunt them. It is not unusual for another incident to trigger thoughts of a scene or case from days gone by that the individual thought long gone, but which has lingered in their memory.

Larger departments and agencies have come around to offering employee assistance programs, some of which offer peer support, others assisting in getting the counseling some folks need to work through critical incidents. Smaller towns may benefit from considering ways to less officially offer their personnel a listening ear.

The officer I mentioned earlier got word to me the next day. We visited the scene. He described what happened and what was going through his mind. He didn’t need counseling; he just wanted someone to talk with. His career wasn’t damaged, he made promotions; he moved up the ladder. He knew when to ask for help.

Many of us try to go it alone. We think we can manage our lives on our own, that we don’t need anyone else, that others will think less of us if we seek assistance with our troubles. More often than not, sometime, some way, burying stressors comes back to bite us when, and in places, we don’t want to be bit.

When citizens need help, they call a cop. When cops need help, they can call a chaplain. Yours wouldn’t mind hearing from you.

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