Chaplains ride along, offer solace at Bluffton crime scenes

bheffernan@islandpacket.comJune 22, 2013 

chaplains

Pictured are the the area five clergyman who volunteer as chaplains with the Bluffton Police Department. They are, from left, Rev. Brian Rose, Church of the Cross; Rev. Manuel Diaz, Iglesia Torre Fuerte; Rev. Bennie Jenkins, First Zion Baptist Church; Rev. Paul Hamilton, Bible Missionary Baptist Church and lead chaplain Rev. John Ring, Grace Coastal Church in Okatie.

PHOTO BY JEFF WIGGINS — Submitted

The Bluffton Police Department has joined forces with a higher authority on its patrols.

Five area chaplains began volunteering this month to ride along with officers and help work crime scenes in their own way -- by comforting victims and their families and friends.

"They're just so beneficial in so many ways," says Police Chief Joey Reynolds.

At crime scenes, particularly violent ones, the chaplains "act as liaisons between the officers working the scene and the family," Reynolds said.

"Unfortunately, when we work those events, we have a lot to do and we're busy," he said. That can make it seem as though the officers are indifferent toward the suffering of victims and their loved ones.

That's where the new chaplains come in.

"We are here to be a peaceful voice and to provide comfort at a comfortless time," said the Rev. John Ring, the lead chaplain.

Ring was called to the scene of a potential suicide during his first week on the job.

"As ordained ministers, we have no doubt that this is where we need to be," he said.

When he's not up at night helping the police officers, Ring serves as a minister of family counseling and community outreach for Grace Coastal Church in Okatie.

He is joined on the chaplain team by the Rev. Manuel Diaz of Iglesia Torre Fuerte, the Rev. Paul Hamilton of Bible Missionary Baptist Church, the Rev. Bennie Jenkins of First Zion Baptist Church, and the Rev. Brian Rose of the Church of the Cross.

The chaplains rotate weekly and are encouraged to visit the department three times during their service week, according to Ring.

They also visit sick and injured officers, assist in death notifications, serve as liaisons with other clergy in the community, and officiate at funerals and other religious and civil ceremonies.

Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at twitter.com/IPBG_Brian

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