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    Police-Fire Reports
    Monday, July 22, 2024

    New London revives its chaplain program with three clergy members

    New New London Police chaplains, (form left to right) Angel Aybar, Carlos Rosado, and Mark O’Donnell. (Photo courtesy of New London Police Department)

    New London ― Three New London faith-based leaders are lending their time and spiritual guidance to the police department’s newly revived chaplain program.

    The program allows local clergy to offer emotional support and counseling to police officers. The chaplains are also on call in times of crisis for both officers and community members.

    Angel Aybar, pastor at T.H.E Church and one of three volunteers who recently completed chaplain training, said he sees it as an opportunity to serve the city “where I live, worship, work and play.”

    Aybar said he’s discussed the idea for several years with police officials and knows from experience that chaplain programs, including in the U.S. Army where he served, can have a positive impact.

    “To me, honestly, it wasn’t a question of if I wanted to do it. It was a question of when will we do this,” Aybar said.

    He said he sees the role of chaplain as someone who can be there “to support and serve those who serve, the guardians of the guardians.”

    “Once things kind of calm down, we can come in and provide a level of peace and understanding and comfort. We can be there to listen to and reason with either members of the department or members of the community,” Aybar said.

    Joining Aybar in the program will be Father Mark O’Donnell, who serves multiple New London Catholic churches, and Pastor Carlos Rosado, pastor at Engaging Heaven Church.

    Rosado, who offers counseling as part of a marriage ministry with his wife, said in addition to being on call, he expects to develop a rapport with officers that will help build trust and relationships between police and the community.

    O’Donnell said part of the duties of a chaplain will involve death notifications to family members, a part of an officer’s job that can take an emotional toll on them and add to their stress.

    The chaplains will offer spiritual aid without regard to religious affiliation.

    “I am a Catholic priest, but as chaplains we serve all denominations and all faiths,” O’Donnell said.

    “I see this as a great way to support the police department,” O’Donnell said. “The police have so much to handle in any given situation.”

    Joseph Parise, longtime chaplain with the Waterford police department, said he was happy to hear that New London was reviving its program and said it could only benefit the community.

    “It’s such a beneficial tool for law enforcement to have chaplains on their team,” Parise said. “We’re trained to respond to tragic events. We bring a lot of empathy with us and understanding.”

    Parise said deaths occur in the community all of the time and often police will simultaneously need to make a death notification to a family member while investigating the cause of death. Chaplains, Parise said, have the ability and time to spend hours with family members and provide follow-up care to help family members get through what can be the worst time in their lives.

    The chaplains are expected to start this month with a rotating schedule that will include ridealongs with police.

    g.smith@theday.com

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