Kern county Sheriffs office utilizes team of volunteer chaplains for variety of services

Chaplains support grieving families and police

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - When a loved one passes away unexpectedly, it can be devastating.

Even more when it's a criminal investigation.

That's when a chaplain can be a godsend.

"We're able to be there in critical minutes. To help them keep their bearing to keep their calm and know what their next steps are that they need to take," said volunteer chaplain Rick Gildez.

The sheriffs office has a team of 15 volunteer non denominational chaplains.

They respond to fatal incidents like traffic accidents, homicides, suicides and baby deaths.

They were there for last month's plane crash and taft school shooting.

Female chaplains are also available for cases like child abuse.

"Oftentimes its easier for a female to relate to a mom," said volunteer chaplain Silvia Lack.

Then there's rape investigations.

"I've responded to hospitals to hold a woman's hand while a rape exam was performed," said Lack.

And sometimes, people just need a motherly presence.

"I responded to a deputy whose mom had passed away and when I walked in he just grabbed me and cried on my shoulder and he lost a mom and I think at that moment he saw me as a mom right then," said Lack.

Chaplains support both grieving families and law enforcement.

"Law enforcement has a job to do and their job is to primarily investigate and determine what happened," said volunteer chaplain Rollin Strode.

"That allows the deputy to do their investigation and oftentimes when it comes time to do the interview with the victim or witness, they're much calmer and in a better place and can provide more information," said Kern county Undersheriff RoseMary Wahl.

While chaplains may be exhausted at the end of the day....

"It's an opportunity to give back to the community. The community gives us a lot. Our officers give us a lot. There are actually people that come unto us later and will thank you. Thank you for being there during those critical moments," said Gildez.

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