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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Police Chaplain

One of the many reasons I enjoy my Kiwanis Club so much is programs such as we had this morning.

Pastor Dick Huls, a retired pastor, also serves as one of six Chaplains for the Escondido Police Department (about 160 sworn officers, about 100 staff members).

In the course of his service as Chaplain he learned a number of things that are startling to those of us who are 'civilians' and not always aware of what happens within police departments nationwide.

There is, for example, about an 85% divorce rate within the ranks of law enforcement. The rate of suicide for police officers is about three times the national average. While he didn't quote a percentage, he did say that the number of incidents of spousal abuse were 'outrageous,' which suggests a very high percentage. Constant pressures, constant exposure to pain and suffering, often within their own ranks, contributes to these high figures.

After the meeting I discussed these figures with a close personal friend who is a CPA. "Well," he said, "those figures, while high, may be misleading. For example, you may have 10 officers, two of whom have been divorced three times; that's six divorces out of 10. Another two officers have one divorce each, there's your 80% . . . so it's not like 8 out of every 10 cops are getting divorced."

"Yes," sez me, "but those cops who get divorced three times also concern me. If they can't get along with at least one of three wives . . . what does that say about their ability to cope with society . . . particularly those within the society who are troubled?'

Even those of us who work with law enforcement and think we are reasonably well versed on that world find that we are really rather poorly informed. Part of this is because, of necessity, police departments form something of a 'closed society.' Even the best of personal friends are seldom invited in to the inner circles of police fraternities. Much of what goes on within police work simply could not be well understood by lay people.

Often, police deal with the dregs of society . . . they deal with child abusers, spouse abusers, murderers, rapists, pedophiles . . . they see death in various forms, natural as well as violent. All of this tends to put more stress on police than the average citizen.
Then, after all the hard and dirty work is done, the see judges put the bad guys back on the street with little more than a slap on the wrist.

They earn their pay and then some.

Incidentally, if you are local to North San Diego County and want an absolutely brilliant speaker, call my friend, Pastor Dick Huls. Or, call or email me, and I'll put you in touch with him. Whether Dick is talking about his profession as a beekeeper or as a police Chaplain, he holds his audience spellbound.

I guarantee, whatever Dick speaks on, you will come away enlightened and entertained.

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