Clergy in Central Virginia Step up to Help Police Officers in Ti - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Clergy in Central Virginia Step up to Help Police Officers in Times of Stress

Posted: Updated: Jul 20, 2014 05:45 PM

Police officers are who we call when we need help. They have difficult and dangerous jobs racing from one 911 call to the next.

That's why police departments in Charlottesville and Albemarle County have a special faith force to guide officers through stressful situations.

Facing the worst society has to offer is tough. That's why clergy in central Virginia are stepping up and helping police officers deal with the experiences they face on a daily basis.

Charlottesville Police Chaplain Edward Hopkins said, "I can't comprehend what they do. They’re asked to do more than a human being ought to be able to do, but they do it."

Police chaplains, like Edward Hopkins, play a special role for law enforcement officers. They guide the heroes everyone else follows.

"I'm a volunteer chaplain and I'm in a car with you because I have a passion for cops and what they do,” said Chaplain.

Building relationships with officers is the first step to becoming a resource.

Albemarle County Police Chaplain Jeff Villio said, “Police officers for the most part are pretty guarded. They want to keep everything in."

Charlottesville Police Chaplain Fernando Garay said, "There's power in words, and when I'm around the police officers or other department figures and I can bring a word that just inspires them or gives them faith that brings me a lot of joy."

The two chaplains from Charlottesville police and one from Albemarle County police all lead local church congregations as well. They translate their ministry from the pulpit, to a police cruiser when officers need counsel.

"It may come down to just simply somebody wanting to talk and cry on your shoulder,” said Villio.

"I pray a blessing. I pray for their families, their children,” said Garay.

The police departments say a chaplain's prayers and counseling are invaluable. But there's something else special about the position that brings officers peace.

Ronnie Roberts, from the Charlottesville Police Department said, "The calming affect that he has and his presence, just his mere presence there says an awful lot."

The more chaplains understand what officers go through, the more respect they have for the profession.

"It’s a difficult job I could never do. They get up every day and they do it, and they do it as professionals and they smile and they care and they get battered but they keep coming back. That's very, that's very moving to me,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins has been a chaplain at the Charlottesville Police Department for 18 years. Fernando Garay just joined him as Charlottesville's second chaplain.

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