PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (KION) The Pacific Grove Police Department announced they started a Chaplain Program. They will train local faith-based volunteers to assist both community members and police officers during times of crisis, including lockdowns or hostage situations.
They say law enforcement and faith-based groups are the key pillars of a local community and when they work together, neighborhoods thrive.
"That makes a big difference. It's a great way for the police to, I think, show that they care about us in the community that they are," commented Josh Jenkins, a Pacific Grove resident. "They're here, you know, to do what they say, which is to protect and serve."
Pacific Grove Police Department Chief Cathy Madalone explained that they will receive approved training, "so that they learn how to handle critical incidents and see scenes that regular people shouldn't be seeing."
Madalone said the program is supposed to help with the emotional health of the officers and the community.
For now, there are two religious people participating Deacon Scott Taylor, from St. Mary by the Sea Catholic Church, and Pastor Charlie Rodriguez, from Peninsula Christian Center. Both had to pass a criminal record check.
"We recognize that the influence that faith-based leaders have on people within the community and even within our own department here," said Cathy Madalone. "The chaplains will provide some counseling and emotional support to the members of our team, our families and to members of the community as well."
For their part, the chaplains said this program will have a positive impact on the community.
"There are a lot of things that are going on in this world and we that we can be there to help them, to support them and not judge them, but hear them very well in their in any area of their life and pray with them," said Pastor Charlie Rodriguez.
The chaplain will also help victims of crimes, notify people about the death of family members, and support officers when they experience traumatic situations such as vehicular accidents with fatalities.
"If the police need us, we'll be there," Rodriguez said.
The police said that the chaplains will be called when necessary, so they don't have an estimated number of hours they could dedicate to this activity, but as soon as the chaplains decide to take the training, they will be able to accompany the officers in their patrols.