On-call clergy help police, victims deal with tragedy
Halifax Regional Police have 3 chaplains on-call, 24-7
When tragedy strikes and first responders are forced into difficult situations, Halifax Regional Police have three chaplains they can call anytime, day or night.
The clergy members are available to support families of victims, as well as officers at the scene.
Reverend Cynthia Chenard has been a chaplain with the department for the last 10 years.
She's there to help grieving families cope with a sudden death or a serious car crash.
Chenard said a big part of her role also includes helping police officers.
"To knock on somebody’s door in the middle of the night knowing you’re changing their lives — it’s a pretty traumatic thing for us as well. And they work 12-hour shifts, so they may do this in hour number two and they still have another 10 hours to be a police officer out there," she said.
Police officers usually request a chaplain at the scene of a fatal crash or any other situation where people could use a hand to hold.
"To have them along is really beneficial to our officers. It allows us to get our job done and assist the family, but also we can then focus on the operational side of the call while the chaplains can really deal with the emotional side of the call," said HRP Supt. Brenda Young.
Chenard said her most memorable call as a chaplain brought her to the Macdonald Bridge.
A young person was threatening to jump and she talked them off the ledge.
"It's a sense of calling for those of us in a religious or a theological frame of mind. It's a service that we provide that we feel God is calling us to do," said Chenard.
Chaplains are used in police departments across the country.
Nova Scotia RCMP have 23 chaplains on-call at any given time, all of whom are volunteers.