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Chaplaincy Program Legal, Court Rules

But only if safeguards are followed.

Key point. Police chaplaincy programs may be constitutionally permissible if the chaplains are volunteer clergy who serve without pay, and the program is open to volunteers of all faiths.

A Washington state appeals court ruled that a county sheriff's chaplaincy program was constitutionally permissible so long as certain safeguards were followed. Prior to 1984, deputy coroners and deputy sheriffs in Pierce County, Washington, gave death notifications to the next of kin of deceased persons. Deputy sheriffs also provided crisis intervention to victims of violent crimes and to their families. Neither the coroners nor the sheriffs were trained to handle these responsibilities or to cope with the stresses of these tasks. Uniformed sheriff's deputies also suffered emotional and psychological problems caused by their daily exposure to violence and tragedy in performing their duties. In 1984 ...

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Posted:
  • September 1, 1996

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