The Pleasant Hill Police Department Chaplaincy Program: What's it all about?

Police officers face an extraordinary amount of stress on the job and often require a strong support system to provide assistance in dealing with the trauma and challenge of their role in serving and protecting the community. A police chaplain is an integral part of this support system in law enforcement support.

Police chaplains serve as a support for law enforcement in times of crisis, in addition to providing assistance and comfort for law enforcement families and those in the community who may be going through emotional or mental challenges. Depending on the agency, police chaplains may be volunteers or even sworn officers. They come from all faiths and are fully ordained. Some hold degrees or certifications in mental health treatment. The Pleasant Hill Police Department Chaplain Program has consisted of as many as four chaplains at any one time. All of our chaplains volunteer their time to "Serve Those Who Protect and Serve."

The way chaplains are used in agencies passes the Lemon test, established by the Supreme Court in the 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman case. This means chaplains must have a secular purpose, cannot advance nor inhibit religion, and cannot “excessively entangle” government with religion. Police chaplains aren’t there to push a religion on police officers or members of the community; their role is primarily to listen and offer emotional and spiritual support to those in need.

Police chaplains have a range of responsibilities that vary from agency to agency. In addition to supporting officers struggling with issues such as burnout, stress or trauma, some chaplains also assist officers with some of their duties. These can include tasks like death notifications, crime victim support and homeless outreach. In addition, chaplains often serve as a liaison between the community and the police department, participating in community events such as National Night Out. Occasionally, chaplains may accompany officers on their calls and serve as a calming presence in certain situations, such as suicides, etc.

Becoming a chaplain requires individuals to handle the unique demands that come with working within the law enforcement profession. This role requires specialized training. The nature of the job – from assisting in suicide calls to managing the aftermath of a line-of-duty death – presents significant challenges that go beyond the skill level of a traditional minister. While other requirements may vary, the International Conference of Police Chaplains – arguably the most prominent and influential chaplaincy program in the world – breaks down the qualifications like this:

  • No criminal convictions
  • Ordained and in good standing with ministry
  • At least five years of experience in ministry
  • Screened by a police chaplaincy committee or department command staff
  • Available to serve 24/7
  • Familiar with local mental and physical health resources

The Pleasant Hill Police Department Chaplain Program is presently accepting applications.  

To learn more about the Chaplain Program OR to apply to serve as a chaplain with the Pleasant Hill Police Department, please contact us at (925) 288-4600.