Funny you should ask. I’ve been thinking of formally offering my services as a Chaplain to the Philly Police department now that I’m more settled in my new surroundings. During the fifteen years I lived in Camden, NJ, I let police know they could ring the rectory door or phone anytime, especially after a stressful tour of duty. There were a number of cops through the years who took me up on the offer. Sometimes at 1:00 AM, there was no one else to talk with over a beer or a cup of coffee. They knew it was better they come and chat with me before heading home. They didn’t need professional counseling; just a sympathetic and listening ear to get them over a rough patch or sit with them while they shared about a bad day or night on the job. Often it meant they didn’t “take the job home” with them.
Police work is hard and dangerous; temptations are multiple and insidious. Members of Fire departments also face difficulties rarely experienced in other professions. Clergy can partner with police and fire department members to anchor neighborhoods, especially in inner city situations. The mutual support we extend one another blesses all involved.
One Jesuit in Philly is an official police chaplain besides his regular “day job” and has been urging me to do this for a while. Your question got me off my duff and I contacted a Philly Cop friend. He says the guy in charge of Catholic chaplains will be giving me a call. Maybe I’ll get a badge and jacket!