KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville Police Department’s Chaplain Corps are not officers, not armed but they’re important to the men and women of the department.
“Most people don’t know that we have a Chaplain Corp.,” Corp. Coordinator Pam Neal said. “Our primary purpose is to be a support and an encouragement to our police officers.”
For 24 years, Neal has served as part of the Chaplain Corps. For the last 15 years, she served as coordinator of the crew that is now 30 members strong.
“Most of our chaplains are actually on staff at different churches,” Neal said. “We have a chaplain on duty every day from 8 one morning to 8 the next morning so that our city has a chaplain available 24/7.”
One of those who volunteers his time is Mike Patty.
“I sincerely believe this is a calling on my life,” Patty said. “This is my mission. To serve the men and women of this department.”
Patty, the Corps’ Assistant Coordinator, has been a part of the department’s Chaplain Corps for 22 years.
“I want to be totally 100% ready when this department calls,” Patty said. “Preparing yourself for the next call. Trying to be mentally and spiritually alert because you just never know what that call is going to be.”
That’s what these volunteers do. No matter the day or time. When the call goes out, whether it’s a crime scene or just to talk, they show up.
“We use a term, as far as chaplains are concerned, we’re a ministry of presence,” Patty said.
“So many people don’t realize what it’s like. There are very few jobs that when you go to work in the morning you really don’t know for sure if you will be home that night,” said Neal when talking about the men and women they support in KPD.
But that support can go much further, by being there for a community in crisis.
“Being at death scenes, making death notifications to families, that’s mostly when the public finds out about us,” Neal said. “I think that making those death notifications and so forth are something officers are not comfortable with number one. But number two, if we are there with the family it frees them up to do their police work.”
And at the end of the day, that’s the goal. Providing support, not just to the victims, but the officers themselves so that justice can be served.
“They’ve got that investigation they have to do,” Patty said. “And that investigation is to assure that family that the legal side is going to be taken care of.”