Police Chaplain Program
Police Chaplain Program
The Volunteer Police Chaplain Program was created in 1986 to serve the citizens of Odessa and the officers and employees of the Odessa Police Department. The Police Chaplain Program is staffed by volunteer chaplains from various church denominations. These chaplains provide a valuable and much-appreciated service to public safety officials, families in need, and the community at large.
Volunteer chaplains receive training in police regulations and procedures to increase their understanding of the role of police in society. They are available to provide specialized counseling to citizens, officers, and their families upon request. There are chaplains on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Who Are We?
The Volunteer Police Chaplain Program was created by Chief Alan Stewart in 1986, with the appointment of the late Pastor George Golden of the First Church of God as the Odessa Police Department’s first police chaplain. Under Pastor Jerry Thorpe, formerly of Temple Baptist Church, the program began expanding beginning in 1993, and now is among the largest police chaplain programs in Texas and the nation.
The Police Chaplain program is currently under the direction of Lieutenant Kevin Chance and is staffed by volunteer chaplains from various church denominations. These chaplains serve the Odessa Police Department, Ector County Sheriff's Office, ECISD Police, and Odessa Fire Departments, other public safety organizations as well as the citizens of the community.
What We Do
The chaplain program of the Odessa Police Department exists to support the officers and staff as they fulfill their mission. These local ministers are able to provide counseling and also assist officers in notifying families of the death or serious injuries suffered by a loved one. In such cases, they are available to stay with the family until church or family support arrives. They are also available to call out for critical need incidents such as barricaded subjects, civil disasters and other traumatic occurrences. They provide what some call a “Ministry of Presence” bringing peace and comfort, wherever they can, to citizens of Odessa.
The International Conference of Police Chaplains is an organization founded in 1937 to provide support for police chaplains who serve law enforcement communities. Each year, the Conference provides both annual and regional training seminars for beginning and experienced law enforcement chaplains. OPD sends one of its chaplains to the ICPC Annual Training Seminar each year. All of the classes required for basic training are offered at this seminar. The levels of credentialing are basic, senior, and master. OPD Chaplains have experience varying from one to 15 years in law enforcement chaplaincy. The chaplain program is open to all full-time or retired ministers. If you wish, you may call Lieutenant Kevin Chance and make an appointment to discuss becoming a chaplain. Twelve classes are required by ICPC for basic certification. The chaplaincy certifications are offered online.
If you are a minister interested in applying to be a part of the Odessa Police Department Chaplain Program, fill out the application HERE Version OptionsPolice Chaplain ProgramHeadline Contact Us. For any questions, you can email Lieutenant Kevin Chance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the application, you will also be required to complete and pass a background check, complete an interview with the Chief of Police or his designee, and complete a four-hour orientation class before being accepted into the program.
The Volunteer Police Chaplains are members of the Peer Support Program, which is facilitated by Sergeant Lindsey Waychoff. Peer Support Systems in law enforcement today have shown to reduce stress and psychological trauma among law enforcement.
Peer Support is an objective and nonjudgmental resource from which employees may voluntarily request support and assistance in working through personal and occupational problems with specially trained co‐workers. Peer Support is designed to complement other behavioral health services; it does not replace professional care. Peer support provides a way for employees to "talk‐out" problems with specially trained co‐workers who "walk in their shoes" and want to help. Peer Support members are trained to use active listening skills, help clarify issues and explore options, support the person through their problem‐ solving process and/or refer them to professionals as appropriate. A formal Peer Support team is paraprofessionals who, in addition to the responsibilities above, usually work with clinical oversight, can respond to critical situations to be a confidential advocate to those in crisis and, when necessary, refer to a mental health professional or other appropriate professional. Team members will have a high degree of aptitude, selected for their experience and personal qualities. These peer support personnel can intervene in an officer's life at a crucial time when he or she is open to input from a trusted peer. It is at this time when they may be open to referral to a more skilled counselor. Peer Support can provide this service without the involvement of supervisory personnel. Peer Support has the potential for legal confidentiality through Texas State law (Health Code): Section 1. Subtitle B, TItle 9, Health and Safety Code, Chapter 784. Critical Incident Stress Management and Crisis Response Services.
Recruitment and selection of candidates for Program service as Peer Support Team Members will be an ongoing function of the Program. Peer Support Team Members will be selected from employees who have demonstrated an ability to cope with a traumatic event and effectively deal and command the respect of their peers. Persons seeking a position on the Peer Support Team are encouraged to complete the application process.
Peer Support Training is continuously given to the members and consist of, but not limited to the following subjects:
▪ Critical incident stress
▪ Suicide intervention
▪ Listening skills
▪ Sympathetic stress
▪ Basic conflict management
▪ Mediation techniques
▪ Referral criteria
The goal of this program is to be proactive in getting assistance, including professional assistance, before things get out of control and affect job performance. This program will create a culture of support crucial to healthy living, and is even more important in professions where there is a high degree of stress such as law enforcement.
When the program is in place confidentiality will be maintained according to the following basic guidelines:
1. Since the Peer Support Program is a confidential program. No records identifying employees who utilize the program will be maintained. Only general statistics will be kept to evaluate the program on a yearly basis.
2. Peer Support Team Members will not discuss information obtained while acting in a peer support capacity with anyone other than the Clinical Director/Consultant or his/her designee for the purpose of mental health support unless required by law.
3. Peer Support Team Members will not divulge shared information with other employees, family members, friends, supervisors or management, or the general public. Peer Support Team Members are required by law to report illegal activity or if the employee is a danger to self or others. Peer Support Team Members may consult with the organization’s Clinical Director, who will also maintain confidentiality.
For any questions regarding the Peer Support Program, you can email Sergeant Lindsey Waychoff at LWaychoff@odessa-tx.gov.