- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2016

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - A group of chaplains has been formed in Grand Island to assist law enforcement in helping people who are suffering during or after a traumatic event.

About six local pastors have joined the Public Safety Chaplains Corps and have received training from another chaplain who works with law enforcement officials in Kearney and Buffalo counties, The Grand Island Independent (http://bit.ly/1TznhBi ) reported.

Grand Island Police Chief Steve Lamken said that a chaplain can “go further” than law enforcement can at a scene by helping people suffering or with other needs. The pastors can also help law enforcement officers or emergency workers who might need to talk to someone after a particularly tough situation.

Lamken noted that the group would’ve been helpful at a recent fire in which residents and emergency personnel witnessed a woman’s death.

The chaplains may also assist in notifying families of a death. The Rev. Todd Bowen, the head of the Chaplains Corps and the pastor of Grace Covenant Church, has assisted with one death notification. Afterward, the officer told him it was helpful to have a chaplain there.

“They’re just very difficult situations to be in, where someone’s world is about to be turned upside-down,” Bowen said.

In order to be a source of help, the chaplains are making an effort to be visible among public safety officers.

“That trust and rapport doesn’t just automatically happen,” Bowen said.

The chaplains have started to do ride along with law enforcement officials and emergency responders. They’ve also toured facilities, including the 911 center and the law enforcement center. They’ll also begin attending department briefings.

Scott Jones of Third City Christian Church said that the chaplains take direction from police chiefs and fire captains.

“When we come on the scene for whatever reason, we’re there to do what the first responders need us to do,” Jones said.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com

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