By: Katie Sobiech
Most of us are aware that the job of a cop is no easy task, but many don’t think about how dangerous it can really be, and how many innocent lives are sacrificed in the line of duty.
The Summit County Safety Forces Chaplaincy Center (SCSFCC) remembers fallen heroes, as well as offers a safe place for them to unload all of their heavy burdens from the days, weeks and years they’ve been on duty.
A Unique Niche
“Law enforcement and fire are a different profession, they can’t traditionally use the mental health services the public has access to for good, and sometimes not good reasons. There’s liability down the road in certain situations if they go for counseling,” Robert Denton PhD, LISW, Executive Director at Safety Forces Chaplaincy Center, shared.
Along with that, many counselors just aren’t able to understand what the officers go through.
“(The officers will) say ‘I went to counseling and it took 4 weeks for them to understand what I did’. They don’t always understand all the nuances,” Denton explained.
Because of this, SCSFCC has a substance abuse counselor there for police, fire, dispatchers and their families.
“It’s a very quiet, confidential mental health service for those who end up having problems dealing with traumatic things all the time,” Denton said.
“We have a unique approach to this. It’s a specialized approach,” Denton said.
Loved By All
“As a shift commander, it is my duty to remain alert for signs that an officer may be facing personal or professional struggles. I can confidentially call our police chaplain and share my concerns,” Captain Sylvia Trundle said.
“Rev. Denton has been an amazing resource as a touch-point for caring, trusted, professional intervention,” she continued, “ If an officer or their family member suffers an injury or illness, he will immediately follow-up and facilitate getting any help they may need. Members of the safety forces know that they don’t have to shoulder the often too-heavy burdens experienced as a result of proudly serving our community,” Trundle continued.
All Types of Help
Along with counsel, SCSFCC offers professional education for law enforcement, as well as emergency assistance when they get their “backs-to-the wall”.
If an officer is injured on duty, gets disabled and is off for a month or two, he or she can be provided with financial resources.
“The unique part is that we have a connection here of similarity and understanding,” Denton shared.
His doctorate in Social Welfare, as well as his Pastoral Counseling is just what these men and women need.
Normally it’s the safety forces that are saving people’s lives, but sometimes, it’s the other way around.
“We’ve had at least 3 people say if it wasn’t for the center they would’ve taken their lives,” Denton shared.
“One said ‘I can still taste the Break-Free on the gun barrel’,” Denton said.
Break-Free is a solvent used to clean guns.
“You can’t put a price on that,” Denton said.
As for his work at SCSFFC, Denton says, “I happen to love working with the greatest men and women you’re going to find in any profession. It’s refreshing for me and I get a chance to be a part of it. The bottom line for me is it’s a ministry, it is my calling. It’s the greatest job in the world.”
For more information please call 330.329.4588
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