Police chaplains meet for first time in eight years
4 May 2021
Last month more than 40 police chaplains gathered in Wellington for their first national conference in eight years. What had been a biennial event – a valued opportunity for learning and collegiality – suddenly came to a halt when police funding constraints kicked in. But Police District Commanders have initiated a reinstatement of these events because of the value they see in what chaplains offer their staff.
The chaplaincy service is made up of Christian priests and pastors across a wide ecclesiastical spectrum, almost a third of them Anglican. Five of us are within the Diocese of Auckland: Glenys Davis in Northland District, Diana Rattray in Auckland Central, Nyasha Gumbeze in Waitemata, and Iga Mokole and Bruce Keeley in Counties Manukau.
The chaplains’ role is not easy to define, and the job description is broad brush-stroke in nature. But one of the frequent phrases at the conference was the significance of ‘presence’ – simply being there – in the station, at police ceremonies, riding in the patrol car, listening and supporting and encouraging those who face unexpectedness and risk every day of their working lives.
NZ Police personnel do a fantastic job, much of it behind the scenes and unheralded, building positive relationships within our increasingly diverse demography. They work under close public and media scrutiny which seems often more ready to criticise than to commend. The Police need our support and our prayers. Chaplains are privileged to offer both, close up.
Photo and words supplied by Bruce Keeley