EATON — Eaton Police Division (EPD) recently swore in two First Responder Chaplains to serve the Eaton Community. Pastor Ken Harbaum and Rev. Don Thomas will be working with the department to offer aid to community members in distress and police officers alike.
This is part of a larger First Responder Chaplains program in Preble County, as the two chaplains will also be serving with the Preble County Sheriff’s Office and all police, fire and EMS departments in the county.
Pastor Harbaum and Rev. Thomas were sworn-in to EPD on Wednesday, March 11.
EPD Chief Steve Hurd explained, the chaplains will be able to provide assistance to the public and law enforcement.
“If we have a death notification, for example, we would go ahead and call them to go with us on that call or making that notification. Now, if we got sent out on a call, any type of traumatic event, and somebody wants to talk to a chaplain or if there is any type of death, then we will ask people on the scene if they need a chaplain to speak to,” he said.
“One part of it is being there for the public and the other part is being there for law enforcement, for public safety. They will ride along with officers, they will get to know our officers and fire department, and offer support for our officers. Not only will they ride with our officers, but they can be the support if the officer needs someone to talk to or even their family.”
EPD has had chaplains serving with the division in the past, but there has been a gap for several years. However, it is a program Chief Hurd believes in, especially after Pastor Harbaum sat down with Hurd and Sheriff Mike Simpson to discuss the importance of the program.
“He reached out and it was something he was looking forward to. He had talked to other pastors who were chaplains and Rev. Thomas was also interested in being a chaplain for a police agency. They were actually the driving force to initiate this,” Hurd said.
Hurd is certain this program will be a benefit to Preble County, because it will help officers, who typically have a high suicide rate. It will give them someone to talk to about the things they see on the job, when they might be uncertain about talking to family or friends.
“There’s always been that stigma for an officer saying they have to be strong. I think having a chaplain here that they know, they’re comfortable with, that rides with them and gets to know them, and having that pastor-privilege that goes along with that, that helps the officers to have an outlet and someone to talk to. Even with them being available on hand and on calls 24/7, they will come out any time of any day for any citizen, for any traumatic event or death,” Hurd said.
“This service is available to the community. Anytime we’re out or on a scene, we will reiterate that to them. This service has already started since they’ve been sworn-in.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH