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Chaplain programs available to police and families after an officer-involved shooting

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) — Most of them never fire their firearms while on duty.

But Jeff Kaiser says those who choose the profession of law enforcement should prepare for the harsh reality.

So, for starters, his job is to make sure the officer involved in the fatal shooting isn’t alone.

“One of the things I think is very safe is to never say, ‘Hey, I know how you feel,’” said Kaiser, senior chaplain for the Sarpi County Sheriff’s Office. “Because you never underestimate the power of the ministry of presence. You don’t buy it, sometimes it’s like just being there. And it’s okay that they are silent, because sometimes [about] there is another person there.”

The Reverend Tom Meradith was part of the Mayor’s clergy team after the deadly von Mohr shooting in 2007, and has also done significant work with military veterans.

He said that for those who have been fired upon in the line of duty, the questions they ask themselves rarely have answers.

“What should I do with what I have, with what happened to me? Incident last night, incident today, what do I do about it?” said Reverend Meradith, chaplain of Brookston Meadows in Elkhorn. “I think they’re going to have to face it head on and it’s scary.”

Both chaplains agree that in times of social division over policing, officers and their families should not face it alone.

“It’s not that I can fix … a dump truck with stuff knowing it won’t go any further,” Kaiser said.

“We all know that in difficult times we rally around those we can trust,” Meradit said. “And if we feel that the only people we can trust are ourselves, then we have serious problems. And I think that’s where we are today with the way we look at our cops.”

Approximately 20 men and women are members of the OPD chaplain program, representing various faiths. It’s not about any one religion – it’s about a community of healing.

Omaha is home to the Emergency Response Fund, which provides resources to individuals or families dealing with the aftermath of traumatic incidents.

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