Even after 10 years on the job, Paul Stover still wonders: is there a better way?
The best way to find out, he says, is to keep on learning and to keep on networking with others in the field. Stover, a retired church minister and a one-time chaplain with the U.S. Army, began working as a chaplain with the Troy Police Department about 10 years ago. Still, even with all that experience working in ministry, he’s always looking for a better way to assist those he’s working with.
“When I’m called to talk to a family and tell them a loved has just been involved in a fatal car accident on I-75, I know about 10 seconds after I knock on their door, I am going to tell them the worst news they have ever heard,” Stover said. “To talk with other chaplains about that and the other things we do is very valuable.”
Stover was among the first graduating class of 22 chaplains in the Police and Public Service Chaplain Academy at Macomb Community College’s Criminal Justice Training Center on the college’s East Campus in Clinton Township.
Over the course of seven sessions, Stover and other police and fire chaplains from various police and fire departments across the received training in CPR, criminal law and police procedures, self defense, cultural diversity and familiarization with the firearms used by local police agencies.
“I would strongly recommend this course to anyone who wants to work in public service chaplaincy,” Stover said.
About four years ago, James Friedman, senior pastor of Greater Christian Ministries church in Eastpointe, began working as a chaplain with the Eastpointe Police Department as part of his effort to build better bridges between the police department and the community. As he began working with the police, he decided he needed additional training to help him understand the situations that police have to deal with.
So, Friedman took the unusual step of enrolling in and completing the Reserve Police Officers Academy at Macomb, becoming one of very few non-officers to complete that program.
“I wanted to understand the stress of the day-to-day activity of being an officer,” Friedman said. “Not only does that help me understand and relate to the officers better, but it helps me to explain what the police are dealing with when I speak to the community.
“Why does a police officer do what he does? People don’t always understand that and I want to help relate that information to the public,” Friedman said.
“And I wanted to learn more myself about how to work as a chaplain, what to do and what not to do,” Friedman said.
After completing the Reserve Academy, Friedman approached the managers of Macomb’s advanced police training programs and suggested he put together a day-long seminar on the things he learned through the Reserve Academy to share with fellow chaplains. The seminars quickly became popular not only with chaplains and potential chaplains, but with local police chiefs who were considering creating or expanding a chaplaincy program.
Stover was among the students of one of the day-long sessions.
“When we heard James was going to do an extended academy, we knew that was something that could benefit us in Troy,” Stover said. “And ultimately that benefits the police officers in Troy and the people who live in Troy.”
Stover attended the academy along with fellow Troy chaplain Jeff Totten. Troy has a total of four volunteer chaplains on the police roster.
Jim Mietling, manager of advanced police training at Macomb, said the college plans to offer the chaplain academy again in the future.
“A strong chaplain program can serve many roles not only inside the police or fire department itself, but in the community as a whole,” Mietling said.
Friedman said chaplains work with police in a variety of ways. Sometimes they ride along with an officer on patrol, other times they pay visits during roll call or shift changes and they oftentimes will offer Bible studies or stress management training.
“And, we’re on call,” said Stover. “We just never know when the phone is going to ring and what the need is, so we try to stay ready to help in whatever way we can.”
About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu) is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to more than 59,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded and as the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.