MAGNOLIA – Changes in societal norms mean law enforcement officers face unique challenges today compared to the past.
That’s what Bob Fielding chaplaincy consultant with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention told law enforcement officers at an appreciation dinner Aug. 3 at Central Baptist Church Magnolia.
Speaking to law enforcement officers from five agencies in Columbia County Fielding acknowledged the difficult situations officers face are because society’s attitude toward law enforcement has changed drastically in recent years.
Fielding who serves as an auxiliary police officer and lead chaplain at the Jacksonville Police Department shared from several experiences where he believes chaplains were a great help to members of the department.
He described one of those occasions saying: “We all remember where we were on 9-11. At our department those of us who have been there awhile remember 8-25 (for Aug. 25) when about 10 years ago we dealt with a man in a long shooting standoff. He shot several of our cars; one of our guys was wounded by gunfire and almost a dozen were involved in the firefight. It was like a movie. A chaplain being present over the years built trust and that trust was vital after this incident. Officers opened up; officers participated in debriefings and more.”
Fielding encouraged officers to use chaplains in situations where their presence may be beneficial.
“Officers your chaplains really care about you. They are not here to take the place of your pastor or to force religion down you. But they are a spiritual presence when you need it an ear when you need it a person who is there when you need them” he said.
The event was organized by the Magnolia Police Department chaplains and about 30 officers and their family members attended. In addition to the Magnolia Police Department the Southern Arkansas University Police Department Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas Game and Fish Department were represented.
Local churches provided the meal for officers with the evening ending with a giveaway of merchandise provided by local merchants and professionals.