By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
The Gary Police chaplains have a very important task of coming to the aid of not only members of the police force, but also families that are going through a crisis. The circumstances are many and they include crime, fires and any other type of emergency situation.
Rev. Thomas Williams, pastor of Prince of Peace Church is the Chief of the Gary Chaplains. He has been a chaplain for 12 years and held the position of chief for 3 years.
Chaplin Williams said the job of the chaplain is to council the officers and provide council information to families that may need it in the aftermath of a traumatic event.
He said, “we are called to homicide scenes, we oversee cemetery services, follow up with home visits with 6 to 7 chaplains, along with the chief of police and commanders. There are also times when we have to offer the use of our churches at no cost, as well as make financial donations.”
The chaplains also provide grant money for those that do not have insurance. He said, “We present applications from the State of Indiana up to $10,000.
During the summer the chaplains hold a Stop The Violence March, and conduct street ministries, which is where we go out into the different communities and minister.”
The chaplains also have a hotline to report any crimes or disturbances. They pass out 120 turkeys during the holiday season with the help of officers, as well as gift cards.
Rev. Williams said he and Bishop E. Bobby Warren started the idea of the Police Chaplain and took the idea to then Gary Mayor Scott King, who agreed with it. He said, “It was our vision and it was fulfilled back in 2005.”
Rev. Williams says they started out with 9 chaplains and 4 were police officers. Now there are female chaplains and all of us are pastors.