Police chaplains saluted for aid at opening of international conference in Columbia

tflach@thestate.comJuly 14, 2014 

FILE

— Assistance from chaplains is an invaluable part of law enforcement, police and political leaders said Monday.

Ministers provide “comfort, encouragement, solace, confession” during stressful times for police officers and crime victims, U.S. Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole told 375 chaplains gathered in downtown Columbia.

His salute came at the opening of the annual conference of the International Conference of Police Chaplains.

Chaplains are “making a difference in dealing with our challenging times,” he said.

Columbia Mayor Steven Benjamin echoed that sentiment, saying the role of chaplains is vital “where faith is tested every single day with terrible things.”

The gathering provides a refresher on ways to lend a sympathetic ear and give advice when warranted, some chaplains said.

“You learn how you can work with officers and the community,” said the Rev. Laurence Lord, a 77-year-old Catholic priest who has been a police chaplain in Binghamton, N.Y. for 45 years.

Updating skills through workshops and informal discussions with fellow chaplains is important because “you get new nuances,” he said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483

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