In a ceremony at the Evanston Police Department on May 11, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl proclaimed the day “Evanston Police Day” and she “publicly saluted the service of police officers in our community.” She read a quote from a student at Pope John School, “I love the Evanston police officers, because they protect the neighborhood.”
Aldermen Coleen Burris, Delores Holmes and Jane Grover likewise expressed their appreciation. Ald. Grover said, “We all appreciate everything the police do, large and small. We’re all here for one reason, and that’s to thank you.”
Three clergy members, Reverend Patricia McPherson, Joey Rodger, a member of Evanston Meeting of Friends, and Elder Rodney Greene, were each elevated to the role of full police chaplain at the ceremony and given police department badges. Police Chief Richard Eddington said the chaplains, all of whom volunteer their services, tend not only to the officers but to the community.
The chaplains may assist in providing death notices, in tending to a victim of a violent crime, or being present at a domestic dispute. The Chief said the chaplains may help to start the healing process.
Associate Chaplin Reverend David Jones, Connections for the Homeless, told the RoundTable that chaplains are present during most shift changes; on occasion they ride along with police officers while patrolling the neighborhoods; and they build up relationships with police officers. He said police officers engage in tough and dangerous situations and the chaplains can act as a sounding board and remind them “of the moral and ethical part of what they do.”
Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, one of the co-founders of the chaplain program 25 years ago, told the RoundTable the patience, dedication and work ethic necessary to be a police officer is incredible. He said the chaplains remind police officers they are “the fabric of the community, which sometimes gets lost given the nature of the job.” He added, “We’re not proselytizing,” but provide a “ministry of presence.”
Rev. McPherson said she had been an associate chaplain for five years. She said the chaplains are called to the scene of shootings at times. “If a crowd is unruly, we try to quiet the crowd and assure people the police are doing the best they can to resolve the issue,” she said.
Ms. Rodger said, “Being a police officer is one of the hardest jobs in society. … It’s good to have someone ride along and appreciate the dramatic things that police officers do, but also the more mundane things they do to assist the community.”