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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Police, pastors work to develop chaplains program

  • A developing partnership between the McPherson Police Department and two McPherson area pastors has a two-fold purpose of assisting officers and the residents they serve.
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  • A developing partnership between the McPherson Police Department and two McPherson area pastors has a two-fold purpose of assisting officers and the residents they serve.
    Pastor Dick Reynolds of First Presbyterian Church and Martin Coons of Kings Hiway Baptist Church have been working together with city officials to develop a police chaplain program. Although it’s in its beginning stages, the program aims to provide support for officers in their daily grind, as well as counseling for individuals in difficult situations.
    “We’re really excited about the program,” police instructor Jerry Montagne said, who has taken Coons on some of his driving shifts. “I wish we could have had one a long time ago, but I’m glad we’re getting it. I think they’re going to do great.”
    The partnership has gained momentum within the past few months, and an official procedures manual is expected to be formulated toward the end of November. The plan of action follows a similar, short-lived program that fizzled several years ago.
    Reynolds and Coons already have been meeting with officers, Coons even riding with them on some of their eight-hour shifts wearing a blue polo shirt with an officer badge. The chaplains will be able to provide a different persona when dealing with families in crisis situations. One of their main roles will be death notices, but could also include talking with families in suicide or abuse situations.
    “This allows officers to move onto protecting and serving in a way where they are perhaps better suited,” Reynolds said. “A trained pastor is just as suited or better to come into those situations, because that’s what we do.”
    While working together, the officers and chaplains will also develop a trust that can provide emotional support and camaraderie.
    “Stressful situations aren’t always left at the door or in the car, sometimes that goes home,” Coons said, who served for 18 years as a Marine. “Even though we’re a small town, we do have pain, sorrow, abuse, stresses in the community, and if we have that in the community and the officers are dealing with them, why would we assume they’re immune to them?”
    Their presence will provide support that Reynolds said is often missing.
    “If there’s any group of individuals that should have respect and probably don’t, it would be law enforcement,” he said. “It’s such a thankless job. To have someone come alongside them and say, ‘We’re here for you,’ I love that whole idea. Plus getting to know your officers is fun.”
    As the program develops, more pastors will be brought in, and various training courses will be available. This could include self defense, crisis management, post traumatic stress help and radio management. Reynolds said they hope to develop a program that is solid enough to outlive them.
    Page 2 of 2 - This could not happen without monetary assistance. An anonymous grant was given to the program, and the partnership already is looking at developing another through the McPherson County Community Foundation.
    In the meantime, they will continue to be on-call to assist officers and residents in need.
    “My passion is serving the community,” Reynolds said. “I’ve had that passion my whole life. I think this is a perfect opportunity to express what the ministry is all about — to meet other people, not just meet once a week in a building. It can be salt and light in a world that’s growing darker all the time.”
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