Volunteer chaplains support the spiritual health of Prince George officers – NBC4 Washington
As part of its police reform efforts, Prince George County is focusing on the mental health needs of officers. Now the police department is going one step further by placing more emphasis on their spiritual health.
For Claudio Consuegra, the Prince George County Police Chaplain, a police car is more than a mobile office. It can also be a sanctuary.
“As you spend time with them in the privacy of their car, they have the opportunity to express their feelings, what is inside them,” Consuegra said.
“Sometimes it’s nice to have someone to talk to,” said Deputy Commander Susan Smith.
Smith said having a chaplain nearby has helped her over the past year.
“For me, I just like to take my stress off on someone else. Last year I had some personal changes in my life and I just had someone to talk to as a friend”,
Consuegra and other volunteer chaplains are non-denominational, and they randomly ride with officers to listen and offer emotional support.
“They’re kind of a part of us now. So the officers feel a little more secure to let their guard down because I’m talking to a colleague now. I’m not talking to a stranger who is going to judge me,” said Smith.
“I’ve been telling you for 35 years as a law enforcement chaplain, I’ve heard all kinds of conversations, many of which I don’t even remember what they were talking about, but some were very important.” , said Consuegra.
Consuegra said that good mental health requires good spiritual health.
“When people go through trauma, their spirituality is also shaken. So the chaplain helps them regain a normal experience of their spirituality,” he said.
The police service has five chaplains, but aims to triple that number and diversify its chaplain base to reflect the diversity of its service.
The department requires volunteers to have a degree in religion or theology and will provide additional training. It also requires chaplains to devote at least eight volunteer hours per month to officers.