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Thayer Police Department introduces chaplin

Thursday, January 15, 2009

(Photo)
Thayer Police Chief David Bailey and Thayer Police Department Chaplin Abel Perez go over a Bible passage in the Thayer Jail.Photo by Jan Thompson
Jan Thompson

Staff Writer

THAYER -- There is a job in the city of Thayer many local residents do not even know exist. It's a job that takes a special kind of person that does not mind giving the extra effort to help someone in a time of trouble or need.

The job is the Thayer Police Department Chaplin.

Pastor Abel Perez of the Thayer Assembly of God Church is the man who has worked since 2008 fulfilling the duties as the police department chaplin.

Perez is of Hispanic decent and because of his knowledge of the Spanish language has been called on from time to time to talk with suspects who could not speak English very well or not at all. He wears many hats as chaplin for the police department.

"I have been called to interpret for Hispanic suspects. Some of them would not know any English. I have even read them their Miranda Rights in Spanish. I have not only done this at the police department but have accompanied officers to homes of Hispanic individuals that could not speak English," he said.

He has visited with prisoners in the jail. Perez is always available to talk with prisoners if they ask for him.

"Some prisoners do not want to talk and some do. I always try to make myself available to them," he said. "Some are seeking guidance, others comfort. Some of the prisoners are from out of town and have no one else to talk to. I have had prisoners say to me, 'I made a stupid mistake' and some just want to confess."

Perez said he often prays with the prisoners.

"One thing about my position as the police department chaplin is that I have to remain neutral and not let my position as a pastor of a certain denomination of a church interfere with me being a chaplin. I don't go there with the idea of trying to convert people to my church. The cardinal rule of being a chaplin is staying neutral," he said.

There is a big difference between being a pastor and being a chaplin with the same spiritual aspect in both positions.

"As a pastor you represent your church and as a chaplin you represent the department you are working for. In this case it is the Thayer Police Department," he said.

Perez said sometimes, not very often, he rides along with the officers while they patrol. This gives him knowlwdge of what the officers experiece in their job day to day.

"I see a need in this community and think more pastors should get involved. Maybe they don't have the time or maybe their congregation will not let them. I am very pleased and I appreciate that my church has given me the freedom to take this position," he said.

Pastor Abel and his wife Becky and their three children moved to Thayer in 2005.



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