Police chaplains serve in a wide variety of ways. They may be called upon to assist in death notifications, assist and support victims in times of crisis, respond to suicide incidents, and serve as part of a crisis response team. They visit sick or injured personnel, are a resource for counseling for members of the agency and their families, and serve as a liaison with other clergy in the community. They are called upon to deliver the invocation or benediction at public ceremonies as representatives of the police department. They also are on hand to serve inside the police department.
The position of police chaplain is typically a special, non-certified position that carries no law enforcement powers, but does require that person have or develop an unique understanding of police work and the challenges law enforcement officers and their families face on a daily basis. This understanding enables them to be a very effective part of the department, assisting inside and outside the patrol car.
The role of police chaplain can be a very demanding position as their services can be requested at all hours of the night, under all kinds of conditions. They are bound by the same ethics as law enforcement officers, especially when it comes to confidentiality, as well as by departmental policies and procedures.
As noted by the International Conference of Police Chaplains, the position and function of a police chaplain differs from that of a pastor. Their role is to serve, not preach — it is a ministry of presence. Police chaplains, just like military chaplains, must be able to deal with a variety of people with different faith backgrounds, as well as people without faith backgrounds. There is a difference between being a pastor and being a chaplain. A pastor takes an active role in people’s faith life development, while a chaplain supports people where they are at that moment.
Currently, the South Windsor Police Department utilizes the services of two local religious professionals, Pastor Douglas Rowse and Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman.