Chaplain program helps out Pennington County Sheriff’s Office

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Program was established to assist staff members with spiritual, emotional, and relational support. The often-daily exposure to trauma and criminal activity can weigh heavy on first responders.

Chaplain’s hold weekly meetings with sheriff’s office personnel, which include plenty of laughter and an opportunity to confide.

Sheriff’s Chaplain and Reserve Deputy Gerad Strong says their office is open several days a week to support the staff.

“We’re here to supply hope,” said Strong, “to encourage them in their job, letting them know that without them, our communities wouldn’t be where they are.”

Sheriff’s office staff work in a high-stress environment every day, so this kind of support can go a long way.

Sheriff’s Chaplain Dr. Dennis P. Dickson explained why it’s important to assist law enforcement in their everyday tasks.

“They go through a lot of difficulty,” said Dickson, “because of the instantaneous decisions they have to make. Just like anyone else, when you make possibly life-taking decisions, it has a long-term effect.”

One retired deputy, who attends the chaplain meetings, described the dialogue as much needed and life changing.

“It helps us be better parents, spouses, as well as better people,” said Sheriff’s Office Training Manager Tony Verchio. “We have an opportunity to gain a perspective that we might not see.”

There are many other members of this close-knit community who agree. Investigator Jesse Fagerland likes the transparency shared between the staff and chaplains.

“They understand where we’re coming from,” said Fagerland. “I enjoy that there’s no judgement. There’s no fire and brimstone.”

Whether it’s a good day or bad, building camaraderie is helping local heroes in a daily sacrifice to make the community a better place.

For more information on the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Program, navigate here.

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