In the spring of 1992 several local ministers were asked to serve as one of several volunteer police chaplains. In the early part of my “career” I was assigned to the Huntsville S.W.A.T. Team. This has been one of the most rewarding, eye opening, humbling and meaningful experiences of my life. Some of my closest friends are men who have worn and currently wear the “black uniform”. In the early days they were simply called SR or Special Response Team. Eventually the name was officially changed to S.W.A.T. or Special Weapons and Tactics.
My service with those guys has been pretty unique and sometimes a bit different from the average chaplain experience. I am basically embedded with the team and have invitation/permission to go with them anytime they are activated. In the old days one had a to have a special letter from the Chief to do a ride along with the men in the unmarked, black cars. I was the only guy in Huntsville who didn’t have to have such a letter.
In the last 24 years I’ve trained with them on a weekly basis. They’ve let me shoot the qualifying course with the Beretta PM12, HK MP5, Colt M4, Benelli M1, Beretta 92f, and the new Sig 516. In fact my police experience includes: Range Days, Call-outs, Active Shooters, Barricaded Suspects, FBI Negotiation School, Teaching at the Academy, Classes on Pepper Spray, PR 24 side handle Baton, ASP Baton, Vehicle Take downs, PT Tests, Live Shoot Houses, Death Notification, Warrant Service and raids with S.W.A.T., STAC and the Federal Marshals. I am the second oldest person to ever pass the S.W.A.T. PT Test and am the proud owner of both an SR and a S.W.A.T. pin. I have a helmet and body armor. I have a police department ID with my radio call sign “Delta316” on it. That’s a lot and it sounds like some boasting; but please tolerate it as just a list of facts.
The team has access to a multi million dollar facility that is owned by a company called Intergraph. Integraph graciously allows active police to use the gym and fitness area of this magnificent building. Once the city re-purposed our old field office we lost our running area and training site. The team decided to use this new modern facility to conduct our weekly PT. Can you imagine my shock when I was not allowed into the building? There is a basic rule either to do with security or liability that only full time, employed, sworn officers are allowed into the building. I’m not one of those. I don’t have a badge, contract, badge number and never swore the oath. I’m NOT A POLICE OFFICER. I’m often mistaken for one. I’m often included in discussion with them and about them. I do police actions and have police stuff and am even recognized by the police. I am called a police chaplain….but I AM NOT A POLICE OFFICER. I can’t get in the building and don’t have access to the facilities. This is not about hating on Intergraph. Every institution has policies. Tom Caldwell or Kevin Jorgeson (the first two guys to free climb the Dawn Wall of El Capitan) couldn’t teach on my ropes course without a recognized certification process.
My point is pretty simple. Just because we are involved in things that involve Jesus. Just because we sing or pray or celebrate or even attend church functions, just because we sometimes feel like Christians, sound like Christians or at times even act like Christians…even if other people would call us “christian” does that make it so? See it’s not simply a question of what you do; but rather what you are. Integraph doesn’t care what I do. They have one question. What are you?
There is a standard. There’s a difference between Police and civilian. There is a difference between saved and unsaved. Please, please, please make sure you know the difference. Don’t spend a life time pretending, playing, assuming, doing and at the last moment be turned away at the door.
“There is a way that appears to be right, but the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:25)
– Written By: Lonnie Jones