By Mrinal Gokhale
The Milwaukee Police Academy and The Salvation Army have collaborated to form The Salvation Army Chaplaincy Program, training 58 volunteer chaplains to provide relief to Milwaukee crime victims.
The volunteers completed a four-day training program and received certificates of completion at 3 p.m. on Fri, May 29 at the academy on 6680 N. Teutonia Ave.
Police Chief Edward Flynn attended along with The Salvation Army, Faith Builders and some police officers.
Flynn gave a short speech as the volunteers and news media sat down in room 182.
Afterward, volunteers were photographed and given certificates in the gym.
“The program’s proactive piece involves discovering the root cause of crime and conducting community outreach, while the reactive piece involves working on the scene of the crime,” said Tom Thuecks, Service Extension Director at the Salvation Army.
Thuecks is overseeing the volunteers, and has assigned them districts to work in.
Although Salvation Army provides help in natural disasters and some major crimes, Thuecks said they’ve never completed a program like this.
“Once an incident occurs, the on-call volunteers will be sent out in teams of three or four.
They will be briefed on what happened and then they’ll learn what the victims need for healing.”
Thuecks said that the volunteers are mostly pastors and church members in the Milwaukee community, who completed the training process this month.
According to Thuecks, the volunteers completed two days of spiritual and psychological first aid training. In addition, they finished two days of police academy training.
For the outreach aspect of the program, Thuecks said volunteers will work on discovering the root cause of crime and how to prevent it.
“The key is getting to know your neighbors and looking out for each other,” he said. “I came from a small town so I knew everyone, but that’s harder in the city so that’s why we’re doing outreach.”
Captain Jutuki Jackson of District 7 first approached Faithe Colas, community relations director about the idea of the program, after learning about The Salvation Army’s services.
He said that he was already developing a program with faith-based organizations prior to meeting with The Salvation Army, and felt The Salvation Army’s volunteers would be helpful.
“We hope to bring calmness to Milwaukee neighborhoods through this program,” Jackson explained.
“When violent incidents happen, the police officer’s job is getting witnesses. We need community members to identify the root cause and provide support.”
Officer Jackson went on to say that the services The Salvation Army will provide include family support, food, counseling and referrals for long-term services like housing.
Major Tim Meyer of The Salvation Army spoke before handing out certificates, explaining the volunteer’s role in helping out police officers and community members affected by crime.
“You may have been wondering why you went through training, but I hope you understand now why,” he said, upon which the chaplains nodded in agreement.
“I hope you experience joy in handling other services while the cops do their jobs.”
Visit www.SAmilwaukee.org to learn more about The Salvation Army Chaplaincy Program.