A Virginia seminary has launched a new course exploring the relationship between law enforcement and clergy in hopes of finding ways to sustain the wellness of officers and protecting communities. Those in law enforcement say it’s a timely topic in the wake of police-involved killings in Ferguson, Mo., New York City and Cleveland.
“So many law enforcement officers really have to deal with a lot of evil things that it has a spiritual effect on them,” said Mark Olson, president of the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington, Va.
Left untreated, that exposure can lead officers to be a dangerous element in the communities they are charged to project, said Sam Feemster, the minister and retired FBI agent who teaches “Spirituality and Law Enforcement Training” at Leland.
“Exposure to evil and its toxicity in every imaginable context” has a corrosive effect on officers “and if we are not grounded, then we can be overcome by the exposure,” said Feemster, who also is pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Arlington.
Without treating officers, he added, “we have what we have been reading about and will continue to read about.”
The course aims to prevent those situations. The course description says students will “investigate the nexus between the roles of clergy and cops in our society” and “develop and recommend nontraditional interventions to sustain officer wellness and community security.”
Those who work regularly with police agree the conditions officers face require the spiritual solution the course proposes.
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global