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Letter: A police chaplain has many roles

A police cruiser outside of the Suffolk County

A police cruiser outside of the Suffolk County Third Precinct in Bay Shore. (March 2, 2010) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

As a Suffolk County Police Department chaplain since 1986, I would like to respond to "Why the need for SCPD chaplain?" [Letters, Aug. 5].

There are seven chaplains representing the Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Islamic faiths. We are on call 24/7. As important as our service is to the department, we are also liaisons to the various faith and ethnic communities.

The writer is correct that the need for chaplains in the armed services is clear, for those who serve are far from home and their houses of worship. Chaplains in a police department are needed because most officers, reflecting society in general, are unaffiliated. We become their clergy and, in many instances, clergy to their families.

Chaplains have training and experience to serve the special needs of the police. We can better understand the life and work of a police officer. I would like to believe that just as police officers are considered the Good Shepherds of our society, we are the shepherds of the police officers and therefore play an essential role in the SCPD.

Rabbi Steven Moss, Yaphank