#4. Community Police Academy – Wellness and Chaplains

For 12 weeks, Sherard Edington is taking part in the Community Police Academy offered by the Nashville Police Department. Through lectures and demonstrations, he is learning about the inner workings of law enforcement in Davidson County. These are his reports.

Dear Friends,

On Tuesday, I attended the fourth session of the Community Police Academy at the Madison Precinct and the topic on schedule for that night was Wellness and Behavioral Health—services offered to officers and their families. This was an especially apropos subject given the school shootings of the day before.

The Nashville police department is fairly unique in that it provides a Wellness Unit (affectionately known as the Hugs Unit) to offer care and counseling to all officers and their families. The unit reaches out to those persons who have witnessed or investigated a traumatic incident such as a shooting, suicide, vehicle accident, etc. In addition to trained counselors, the department has developed a comprehensive Peer Support Network of 150 officers.

The department also has a Chaplain Unit to serve the spiritual needs of its officers. The Chaplain also oversees 27 volunteer chaplains who offer spiritual support to officers and the community. One of the primary tasks of the volunteer chaplains is to make death notifications to families. In 2022, the department made over 800 of these death notifications. Causes of death can be for anything—homicide, suicide, accident, overdose, and more. On Monday, it was these volunteer chaplains who delivered the tragic news to the families of the shooting victims. The volunteer chaplains were also on site at the school and the reunification center offering comfort to everyone involved, including parents and children.

Law enforcement is a challenging occupation. It is good that the department has created the resources to help its people cope with the extreme stresses they encounter in their jobs.


NEXT WEEK: Crime Strategies and Body Cameras