Chaplain Field Report - Cleveland Ohio - September 4, 20207
Late last evening I received a call from the head chaplain for the city of Cleveland safety forces, Rabbi Sruly Wolf, a good friend. He was all business when I answered and I knew something bad had happened. At the same time I received a text from Cleveland Fire indicating that Engine 23 had responded to the scene where a CPD officer, and CI had been killed while conducting a "buy bust."
Before I hung up I also received a call from a homicide detective asking if I could come to Metro, a brother had fallen. I told him that I was alreayd in route. He and I have often worked together to bring calm to the stormy seas.
There is only one power that can combat such horror and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. "Peace be still" says Jesus to the raging storm. And "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, I have called you my friends." (John 15:13). "What a friend we have in Jesus, who layed down his life for ours, to redeem us from sin and death and give us eternal life.
I placed a call to Fr. Doug Brown, another chaplain, to see if he wanted to join me. We have often gone on such calls together. He informed me that he was already on his way.
When I arrived at the Metro ER, a Level 1 trauma center, the scene was as I had so often seen it. Hundreds of CPD officers, and members of EMS and CFD gathering together to support one another in their blackest moment. Astonishment, anger, tears. Members of the EAP (employee assistance program) were also on hand to see to the needs of all.
Between the chaplains and the EAP personnel we were able to staunch the worst of the emotional bleeding. We did so by our presence, and by offering comfort to individuals, by public and private prayer and the reading of Scripture. That, along with the shared love of the joint safety forces family, helped everyone get through the crisis. The Lord's Prayer, the 23rd Psalm and St. John chapter 14 brought peace.
Once again I decry masks and distancing (which is not social)! These are the times when people need to be close, to see one another's face. It is the time to: "weep with those who weep."
Leaving the ER I went to the scene where an intense search for suspect or suspects unknown was under way. I spoke with many officers and offered prayers and words of encouragement to them. All were glad to see God standing with them in "the valley of the shadow of death," in the person of his minister.
But my night was not over yet. I always go to the dispatch center to see the dispatchers whom everyone forgets about. True, they are not at the scene of the action. But they are the ears of God when his children call for help; and the mouth of God dispatching the needed aid. In some ways their job is harder than that of the street personnel. While people on scene can do things to make the situation better, dispatchers have no outlet for their grief, fear and anger. And so they are grateful when the chaplain remembers them, and I always feel honored to be among them.
I spoke to many of them in brief, but they are always busy taking calls, and dispatching, because the beat goes on in spite of our own personal emergencies.
All of this is exacerbated by the current hatred of the police that seems to get all the attention. Actually I don't think it is widespread, but rather that the trouble makers get all the coverage. Most people respect the law, and those who enforce it. But we see what happens when political leaders have lost their way, and keep these "ministers of God's justice" from doing their all important job.
Our sins rise to the heavens. Let us repent of our cultural insanity, seek God's pardon in Christ, and return to a quiet and peaceable life.
At Christ Lutheran Church we pray for the military and safety forces each week. I hope that you won't forget them.
Rev. Dean Kavouras, Chaplain
Cleveland Safety Forces.