Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Critical Incident

Darrell* kicked in the door and hurt his family.  His mother called the police and a warrant was issued for his arrest.  I was riding with the officer assigned to find Darrell.  The officer got out of the police car and told him, "You're not in trouble."  

On the Road
The officer understood Darrell was mentally ill and needed hospitalization.  Darrell didn't want to go.  With one hand on the warrant and another on the tazer, the officer prepared to take him into custody.  I silently prayed, "Speak Holy Spirit."

Tension was high when I asked, "May I speak to Darrell?"

The officer nodded slowly.  God brought my training to the surface.

We gave Darrell space.  In a critical situation, distance equals time.  If Darrell was going to hurt us, the further away we were, the less likelihood of injury.  

We slowed the encounter down by speaking less and listening more.  "How did we get here Darrell?  What's going on with you?"  His grandmother died recently and she was his advocate.  He felt lost and frustrated.  Things with his mother weren't going well.  

We found a way into his story.  My grandmothers have died.  I told him I understood his pain; empathy established.

We reminded Darrell why we were there.  His mother wanted him to get help because he was homeless, ill, mourning and in crisis.  "My mother was right for calling the police.  I do need help."

"May we help you?"


I sat down beside Darrell.  Darrell allowed the officer to search him for weapons.  He followed directions by lacing his fingers behind his back.  He assured us he wouldn't run in the parking lot and kept his word.  On the ride to the crisis center he shared more of his story.  We listened and encouraged him.

Darrell encouraged us by reminding us of the importance of prayer and training.  We were ready to help because God used the Tri-County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).  The mission of the Tri-County CIT is to improve public safety and response to behavioral health crises through community partnerships, community ownership, policy, and training.
Critical Incident Training Class
I am the first chaplain to join the Crisis Intervention Team because ministry partners provide regular, generous prayer and financial support. The week long registration fee, mileage and materials were underwritten by partners. I met officers and deputies from neighboring jurisdictions and now pray for them by name.

When I see deputies, officers and citizens on the road, "Speak Holy Spirit," is still my prayer.  Each cop, and member of the community, is different.  What worked isn't necessarily what will work.

For now, Jesus persuades me to slow things down, listen much and ask if I can help.

*Name changed to maintain confidentiality


  1. Thank you team for dedication and concern all citizen. More than that, heeding the voice of God in challenging times-God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, LOVE (to see people and not incidents) and strong mind (to properly process ALL the events presented during a crisis)

  2. We thank the Lord for an opportunity to hear from you. Comments on the work are encouraging. May Christ continue guarding your heart, mind, body, soul and spirit.

  3. Thank you for your service. Stay encouraged!

  4. brought tears to my eyes - ow wonderful to be in the kingdom with brothers and sisters like you.

    1. Our King is worthy of praise. May He wipe every tear from our eyes.

  5. I just want to let you know that I applaud your use of providing a pastoral presence and using empathy especially. I train seminarians and clergy in the art of pastoral/spiritual care. I will probably use this story to encourage my students to continue to use empathy even when it feels as if they are "not doing anything!" thanks again!

    1. Thank you for the work you're doing in the classroom. If this story can be used to further your purposes, God be praised. I applaud your steady and obedient response to the Great Commission. May the Lord continue equipping you. Appreciate you Sis'!