By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Here’s the scene: Flashing lights and yellow police tape, add police investigators and the medical examiner, and you have something fit for a television drama series.

When tragedy strikes, however, some people in real life need a compassionate response. That’s where the Chaplain Corps comes in.

The Brooklyn Park and Champlin Police Chaplain Corps help police at crime scenes by offering a comforting presence for those in distress.

Lori Walber is one of the six people that make up the corps.

“It’s a hard job,” she said. “But we do it because we are called to do it.”

While police investigate the crime (say, a homicide), the Chaplain Corps helps families figure out what they need to do next.

“We help to reiterate what the police have already said sometimes,” Walber said. “It doesn’t sink in the first time, so we tell them again what’s going to happen with the body, what’s going to happen with the ME [Medical Examiner], what’s going to happen when they call the funeral home.”

The corps goes through extensive training from both police and the medical examiner before helping at the scene.

During training sessions, clergy learn how to assist families with complicated matters.

Although the corps has been working for six years, their work is getting more difficult. The population’s changing demographic has the Chaplain Corps looking to diversify.

“We are all human … we all have the same emotions; and grief is pretty similar, although we express it differently,” said Stan Weese, a corps member.

The corps is currently looking for a rabbi as well as a cleric to help those of the Islamic faith.

The group is dedicated to helping others no matter their faith.

Bruce Talso, a corps member, said the corps isn’t in it to proselytize.

“We’re not trying to gain converts,” he said. “We’re just trying to be the first call for help — spiritual help.”

In order to volunteer, the chaplains must pass a criminal history check and a review of their professional credentials.

Comments (2)
  1. Realist says:

    It’s not necessarily true that they don’t proselytize. I’ve crossed paths with some chaplains that certainly do proselytize. However, if they don’t cross any lines, they can be invaluable. It may sound inhumane, but the officer(s) on the scene have a job to do, and comforting the family of a victim isn’t always top priority. In the early stages of a death investigation, the officer(s) are trying to piece together the scene. If a chaplain or some other type of trained social worker can assist the families with picking up the pieces, and remove that burden from the officer(s) on the scene, then I personally see nothing wrong with that.

    1. Rev. Bruce Talso says:

      Your last sentence describes exactly what we do!

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