Chaplains climb aboard law enforcement wagon

Carson City deputies will be operating with a badge and a prayer after five chaplains graduated from the Carson City Sheriff's Department's newly instituted Chaplains Academy on Friday.

Senior Chaplain Jim Hukari began looking into reinstating the program within the Carson City Sheriff's Department in 1998 after attending an International Conference of Police Chaplains in Southern California.

The last program for the department was more than 10 years ago, he said.

Hukari is joined in the all-volunteer endeavor by reverends Ben Fleming of Silver Hills Community Church, Gary Bowers of the First Christian Church, Amanda Mitchell of the Salvation Army and Wayne Ellison of the Stewart Community Baptist Church.

Ellison, an American Indian, said he saw his part in the program as a way to bridge a gap between the city and the reservation.

"There's always been a bad relationship between the reservation and the city and this made me feel like I could help," he said, noting Indian victims "would maybe feel easier talking to a Native American."

The program's goal is to serve the deputies, said Chief Deputy Rick Keema.

"Their primary focus is the well-being of the officers and their families," he said.

The chaplains will also assist deputies with calls such as death notification, responding to fatal accidents, homicides and suicides. What incidents the on-call chaplain responds to is up to the discretion of the responding officer.

"Many times the law enforcement officer doesn't have the time to stay on the scene and nurture or support the family members," he said.

Pastors entering and continuing in chaplaincy programs must obtain certification and receive monthly training.

The program would be available to all 120 employees of the Sheriff's Department.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office began its chaplaincy program in January 1999 under the leadership of Sheriff Ron Pierini, and helped Carson City get its program running.

"I could not thank Douglas County and Sheriff Pierini enough," said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong. "I am elated. Nothing could top this."


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