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Title Administration / Policy B-23
Effective Date 11-01-05
Subject Police Chaplain Program
Purpose To establish policy regarding the Police Chaplain Program.
Scope This directive applies to all personnel.
  1. Purpose
    1. The purpose of the Police Chaplain Program is to provide more sensitive responses to the public in times of crisis and to provide members of the department with any personal assistance they may require. The Police Chaplain or designee will be available on a 24 hour basis. The purpose of this policy is to define the responsibilities of the Police Chaplain and Assistant Police Chaplains. In the interest of assisting the public and the members of the department, the Chief of Police may authorize Police Chaplains to assist other departments and agencies.
  2. Organization:
    1. The Police Chaplain Program shall be headed by the Police Chaplain and staffed with as many Assistant Police Chaplains as necessary to accomplish the objectives of the program.
      1. The Police Chaplain shall be:
        1. Appointed by and answer directly to the Chief of Police.
        2. A volunteer chosen from churches within Austin or Travis County.
      2. The Assistant Police Chaplain shall be:
        1. Appointed by the Chief of Police based upon the recommendations of the Police Chaplain.
        2. A volunteer chosen from churches within Austin or Travis County.
    2. All Police Chaplains must:
      1. Be ordained ministers or associate ministers who are active full-time in a church within Austin or Travis County.
      2. Never have been convicted of a felony or any criminal offense involving moral turpitude.
      3. Be willing and able to serve the chaplaincy by being subject to 24 hour call-out when assigned.
  3. Responsibilities and Duties:
    1. The Police Chaplain will make their services available to department personnel when they are burdened with personal problems adversely affecting their professional abilities.
    2. Will assist department officials in notifying member’s families and the general public in the event of serious injury or death.
    3. Shall become involved in domestic situations only when the investigating Officer’s Supervisor or Chief of Police feels the Chaplain’s services may be of help to the family involved.
    4. Will assist department officials during major emergency incidents, i.e., major disturbances, natural disasters, major accidents, etc.
    5. When requested, the Police Chaplain will assist department officials in:
      1. The development and implementation of programs and activities designed to address general and specific crime problems within the various communities of the University.
      2. Make presentations at the police academy and/or to new employees concerning various topics, i.e. dealing with personal stress, family crisis intervention, etc.
    6. The Police Chaplain shall not attempt to convert to or bring into their religious affiliations members of the department, or the general public while they are assisting the department, unless a person requests information about the particular faith of the Police Chaplain.
    7. When responding to a service call by vehicle, the Police Chaplain will observe all traffic regulations.
    8. The Police Chaplain, when responding to a service call, will identify themselves and will obey all commands and requests made by an Officer during any given situation.
    9. The Police Chaplain, when engaged on a service call, will identify themselves verbally and by displaying identification provided by the department.
    10. While riding along or when on the scene of a police incident, the Police Chaplain shall wear the issued authorized insignia that clearly identifies them as a Police Chaplain.
    11. The Police Chaplain will carry no firearms on their person, nor in their vehicle, while on call. Additionally, if they observe a crime in progress, they will not intervene, but will notify a Communications Operator immediately and observe the offense from a safe viewing area until Officers arrive.
    12. The Police Chaplain is a volunteer of the department and, as such, is not considered a component of the formal chain of command. The Police Chaplain shall not intervene or hinder in any way the actions and decisions made by department employees in the performance of their duties. However, the requirements in this policy shall not prohibit the Police Chaplain from utilizing the prescribed department complaint process.
  4. Safety:
    1. Every attempt shall be made not to jeopardize the safety of the Police Chaplains. Should a situation develop in which an Officer requires immediate assistance, i.e., Officer with whom a Police Chaplain is working becomes involved in a fight, the Police Chaplain should call for assistance and should only become involved when ordered to do so by an Officer or if an Officer is incapacitated. However, the requirements in this policy shall not be construed as to infringe on the rights and privileges of an ordinary citizen.
  5. Ride Along:
    1. A "Release of Claim" must be signed by the Police Chaplain wishing to ride along. Once a Police Chaplain has completed the necessary forms, the forms will be kept on file in the Chaplain’s personnel file.
    2. Police Chaplain shall only be permitted to ride with personnel approved by the Shift Commander.
    3. The Police Chaplain shall follow the directives of the Officer to whom they may be assigned.
    4. The Police Chaplain shall remain in the patrol unit unless the Officer directs the Police Chaplain that it is safe to exit the unit. A Police Chaplain shall not exit the vehicle on any "high risk" calls to which they may be assigned. This will include family violence calls unless no elements of risk are present, nor are expected, and only a reporting procedure is necessary.
    5. In some rare instances, where circumstances indicate a serious danger due to the nature of a call, the Officer may have the Police Chaplain exit the vehicle in a safe place. The Officer shall notify Communications so that the Police Chaplain may be retrieved as soon as possible. Officers should use good discretion and should consider all options in determining an appropriate area in which to release the Police Chaplain.
    6. Under no circumstances will a Police Chaplain be present in a patrol vehicle involved in any aspect of a pursuit.
    7. Police Chaplains may ride with any division pending approval of the Shift Commander.
  6. Officer Involved Shooting:
    1. Any time an Officer is involved in a police related shooting they will be given the opportunity to have a Police Chaplain present as soon after the shooting as possible. If the Officer so desires, the Police Chaplain may stay with the Officer through every phase of the investigation, except, at the discretion of an investigator, the interview of the Officer.
  7. Complaints Against Police Chaplains:
    1. Should any Officer have a complaint against a Police Chaplain, the Officer shall document the complaint and forward it to the Chief of Police through the chain of command.
  8. Confidentiality:
    1. Any counseling conducted by the Police Chaplains with either department members or the public will be held in strict confidence in accordance with law. Should the Police Chaplain determine they can no longer be effective with a particular person, that person may be referred to another Chaplain or agency by the Department. Information concerning the individual may only be released to the referred counseling source with permission of the person being counseled.
  9. Notification and/or Call Out of Police Chaplains:
    1. Any notification and/or call out of the Police Chaplain will require the notification of a Supervisor. The Police Chaplain may be called to assist in:
      1. The death notification and/or acknowledgment of an employee or a member of the employee’s immediate family.
      2. Any Officer involved in a shooting.
      3. Serious injury or illness to an Officer or immediate family.
      4. Any traumatic crime scene.
      5. Any matter pertaining to moral, spiritual and/or religious welfare of police personnel or a private citizen where religious guidance is needed to address a crisis situation.
      6. After being notified, the Police Chaplain will decide whether to respond or to notify an Associate Chaplain.
    2. When a Police Chaplain arrives at a death scene, they should contact an Officer and identify themselves as a Police Chaplain. The Officer shall notify the Supervisor in charge of the scene of the presence of the Chaplain. That Supervisor, or designee, shall contact the Police Chaplain as soon as practical and apprise them of the situation. The Police Chaplain will act as an intermediary between police personnel and the victim’s family. More than one Police Chaplain shall be summoned to the crime scene should there be multiple victims. Close communication between the Police Chaplain and the Supervisor is essential. The Supervisor in charge of the scene will have the discretionary power to decide whether or not to allow family members or their representative to view a body at the scene. Any viewing shall be after the scene investigation is complete and all evidence has been properly collected.