ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — By day they are police officers and therapists, teachers and clergy, jewelers, mechanics, court reporters and municipal workers.
Whether white collar or blue collar, their common calling is to serve as chaplains with the Albuquerque Police Department, assisting officers and the community by bringing calm and comfort to people whose lives are suddenly rocked by accidents, suicide, violent crime and the other tragic indignities of life in a big city.
The 27 volunteers in the APD’s Volunteer Chaplain Unit are all ordained as ministers in their respective denominations, says Chaplain Commander Briane Dennison, the only sworn APD officer in the unit. The members rotate daily as the on-call and back-up chaplains. When an officer in the field requires the assistance of a chaplain, the request is made through APD dispatch, which relays the information to the on-call chaplain.
The Chaplain Unit was established in 1969 to “provide counsel and guidance to persons in crisis in the Albuquerque community, and to provide spiritual support to department employees and their families,” says Dennison, 40.