When living in Kansas City I was a police chaplain. Now I know our police departments around the nation are under a lot of scrutiny. But I have to be honest. The men and women I’ve had the privilege to know over the years were the hardest working, most dedicated, and giving individuals I’ve known. Its an unbelievably tough job and one that receives very little thanks.
I received a call on a Wednesday before Thanksgiving to ride with an officer on a grief call. This one was just a little different because we were coming to inform a family their son and brother had been killed in an attempted bank robbery. A rough situation on a variety of levels.
The officer told me to stay in the car until he could make sure everything was okay for the chaplain to come in an attempt to bring the sad news. What was a little disturbing was he unlocked the boot on the shotgun in the squad car before getting out. He turned and said, “Chaplain you stay put these are some difficult people.”
I replied, “No problem here I will stay. Maybe a good time to pray.” He smiled and said, “Sure couldn’t hurt.”
He walked up the stair to the front porch, stood by the side of the door and knocked. What happened next took place in fractions of seconds. The screen door blew open and the biggest man I had ever seen tackled the officer and they both tumbled down the front steps out onto the front lawn. Rolling, punching and then it happened the officer’s gun flew out of the holster and was lying next to the attacker. I see the man reach for the gun and I’m yelling into the radio, “I have a man down. I have a man down.”
What happened next was either very smart or really really dumb. I grabbed the shot gun, jumped out and stood beside the front of the car, chambered the shell and shouted, “Chaplain on call.” At that moment everything froze.
Both the man and officer looked over at the crazy preacher standing with a shotgun across his body. I’m not sure they really knew what to do. Because my guess is neither had ever seen such a thing their entire lives or even heard of a chaplain on call.
Thankfully in that span of time there were squad cars everywhere followed by a gentle voice of another office saying, “Pastor you can stand down now. You took care of your partner and that’s all any of us can do. Thank you.”
After prying the gun from my hands, he and I sat for a few moments. We prayed and I shook with adrenalin but it all finally dropped away except for that statement which is with me today. “…You took care of your partner and that’s all any of us can do.” For several years every time an office would see me they would smile, shake my hand and say, “Look out the chaplain is on call. Thank you.”
This Thanksgiving pause and say a prayer for those on the front lines. They really are our “partners.” They serve here in our country watching our backs on holidays and through the long hours at night so we can worship and celebrate with family in safety. They really are dedicated and caring individuals because if they weren’t there is no way they would do the job.
See you on the path…Have a great Thanksgiving.