by Anna Ferraro
In Jacksonville, the stereotype of the officer sitting in the squad car waiting to catch some forgetful citizen going 4 MPH over the speed limit has been shattered through the vision and commitment of Adam Mefford. Alan Bradish, the recently installed chaplain of the police department has added an element of heart and support to the team with a spiritual emphasis as well. Instead, they have shown themselves to be true servants of the community in the extra hours they’ve volunteered to walk their beats (handing out ice cream coupons on the way!) and engaging in many after-hour programs with the community. Now that we know these officers for who they are, now more than ever, we should also realize that they need the same amount of prayers and support that they give in their hours of service.
Alan Bradish, 1st Responder Chaplain of the Jacksonville Police Department, as well as Adam Mefford, Jacksonville Police Chief recently shared some key ways that faith-based people in the community can pray for their law enforcement officers.
Mefford began by saying, “Please pray for the overall safety of officers in the community at large. In our job, we see the worst in things. It’s not often that people just call and want to chat with us. People call when they’re in crisis. In those crises, our officers need safety.
Bradish continued, “Wisdom and discernment as they come into a situation and how best to respond. Officers are coming in to resolve conflict, and emergency, or a dilemma. Officers want to leave each scene knowing that they have resolved it to the benefit of the people that have been involved.”
But it’s not just the officers themselves that bear the stress of a day’s work – it’s their families. Bradish shared, “The officers work a 12-hour shift – that’s quite a commitment as far as dedication of time and resource. Their families don’t get as much as they would like sometimes. It takes a lot for that family to be a strong tight healthy unit with a member in law enforcement.”
Mefford added some light to the family discussion, saying, “My wife is an officer as well, so we understand each other. We get the ins and outs of our work. It’s easier for us to debrief or deescalate from work since we know the job’s stresses, and we can relate to what we’ve had on our plates each day. Sometimes we just need that space when we’re done, to decompress from the day.” Mefford gets support from the rest of his family, too. He said with a chuckle, “Our kids just think it’s cool that mom and dad are police. They don’t understand that there are negative things that go on, so we’re just heroes to them.”
Bradish too, has a great system of at-home support. He shares, “My wife is very supportive of what I do. … That type of support at home is wind beneath our wings, allowing us to not just fly, but soar, and do what we need to do. There’s that level of understanding when you’re both on the same page that allows us to support and encourage each other. There’s not a tension, there’s understanding.” We need to pray that our other members of law enforcement can receive the same kind of support at home.
In summary, according to Mefford and Bradish, here are the top three things faith-based people in the community can be praying for their law enforcement officers:
1- Pray for safety in every moment
2- Pray for wisdom as officers confront challenging scenarios
3- Pray for the officer’s families – for understanding, support, and grace for when days of work take a toll on the family members.
To show the Jacksonville Police Department your support online, go like their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pg/Jacksonville-Illinois-Police-Department