Policy: Department Police Chaplain Program


The purpose of this policy is to offer guidance and direction to members of the clergy affiliated with the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) and to define the qualifications, duties and responsibilities of chaplains.


It shall be the policy of the Department to provide personal, emotional, and spiritual support to all members of the Department community with ministerial assistance as desired. The MSU Police Chaplain Program (Chaplain Program) operates as a voluntary duty for the person selected and seeks to ensure that confidential pastoral support and encouragement is provided, pro-actively and in times of crisis response. A goal is continuous improvements in work environments and with those managing crises.



A ministry to Department members and the MSUPD community, performed by trained, religious professionals and offering services commensurate with their training and expertise.

The Chaplain Program shall consist of experienced representative(s) of various religious faith traditions who can provide spiritual help, guidance, and grief counseling, within their respective realms of expertise, to members of the community.

To protect the integrity of the program, the selection process for membership and assignment to the program is strict in concept and policy, and will be maintained to the highest professional standards.

The Department does not endorse any particular religious belief, and recognizes the right of individuals to practice the faith/belief system of their choosing.


A broad range of activities is provided through department chaplains, including but not limited to, spiritual support for, families regarding grief, comfort/consolation, assistance with traumatic events, etc.


Qualifications and Selection of Chaplain

Police chaplains serve at the discretion of the Chief of Police (Chief) or designee as a recognized Department volunteer. The Chief or designee is ultimately responsible for the operation of the program.

In order to participate in the Police Chaplain Program, the following criteria are preferred:

An ordained, ecclesiastically certified/licensed minister by a recognized religious body, in good standing during their tenure as a chaplain.

The volunteer should have a minimum of five years of experience serving congregations or relevant ministries.

After review of the Chaplain’s application, the Chief or designee may waive this requirement under special circumstances.

A Department member may receive compensation for duties performed at the direction of the Chief or designee.

Non-Department Applicants

Volunteers will complete an application and provide a resume that covers the applicant’s entire employment career with sufficient personal data to properly complete a limited background investigation.

Must consent to a background check by the Department.

Applicants must pass a personal interview with the Chief or designee

Must provide a minimum of three letters of recommendation that include the telephone numbers, email addresses, and addresses of the authors of the letters. Letter may be from any three of the following:

A fellow clergyperson

A senior in the applicant’s organization or denomination

An ecclesiastical supervisor of like position

Another Police Chaplain

A Law Enforcement Officer

The Chief or designee must approve the applicant.

The chaplain will serve for an indefinite term at the pleasure of the Chief. Chaplains may at any time remove themselves from the position and also may be removed at any time at the discretion of the Chief.


Charges or convictions of criminal offenses or offenses involving moral turpitude, shall not be eligible for appointment, whether adjudication has been withheld or not.

History of immoral or criminal conduct.

The loss of a chaplain’s accreditation by the chaplain’s endorsing entity may result in the chaplain’s immediate removal from the program.

Applicant must divulge and cannot be involved in any other profession or business which could be a conflict of interest.

Confidentiality and Disclosure while performing Chaplain Duties

Confidentiality of services to the public, Department members and their families is a matter of extreme sensitivity and importance to the effectiveness of the Chaplain Program. To honor the confidential nature of the services rendered by a Chaplain, the Department will not inquire as to the identity of a Department member seeking counseling or the nature of the counseling sought. However, Chaplains who are also sworn Department employees shall not offer counseling services to other Department employees that would compromise the chaplain duties as an employee.

Chaplains shall treat the official business of the Department as confidential. Information regarding official business shall be disseminated only to those for whom it is intended, and in accordance with established procedures.

Chaplains shall maintain the security of confidential information, and shall not intentionally communicate or reveal law enforcement information that may aid a person to escape arrest, delay the apprehension of a criminal suspect, and/or secure the removal of stolen or embezzled goods, money, or other property.

Chaplains shall not intentionally divulge the identity of criminal informants except as required by law, and authorized by competent authority.

Chaplains may become involved with incidents of significant public interest, however; the Chaplain shall not release information to the media concerning any situation in which they are involved; rather all requests for information shall be referred to the Department’s Public Information Officer (PIO) or university media relations.

Before addressing any group of persons on behalf of the Chaplain Program, the Chaplain will notify and receive approval from the Chief or designee.

In line with other similar professional relationships, the Chaplain may not be compelled to give testimony regarding the contents of conversation with individuals receiving support.

Duties of a Chaplain

Police Chaplains primary duties are to provide assistance to members of the Department as directed by the Chief and to provide assistance to members of the community.

The duties and responsibilities of the Chaplain may include:

Providing confidential support for Department members and their families upon request.

Conducting memorial services.

Participating in special functions and offering prayers in times of need and at special occasions or events when requested.

Contacting and visiting sick or injured Department personnel and family members at home or at the hospital.

Assisting with death notifications.

Assisting in crisis negotiations, calls for service regarding suicide attempts, domestic violence, and other crisis oriented incidents, if trained in those procedures.

Assisting at disaster scenes and locations where victims of trauma and crisis are present.

The Chaplain may be used in conjunction with the various social service agencies that respond in this jurisdiction. The Chaplain is not intended to take the place of professionals from those agencies, but rather to assist them in dealing with persons involved in situations as described.

The Chaplain shall not intervene or hinder in any way the actions and decisions made by Department members in the lawful performance of their duties.

Assisting and coordinating with any Victim Advocates to provide guidance, support, and resources to members, their families, and citizens.

Expectations for Chaplain

The Chaplain should exhibit a broad base of experience and professional ministry, emotional stability and personal flexibility and should demonstrate a caring and understanding attitude toward all people regardless of religious beliefs.

The Chaplain must be willing and able to perform the duties and responsibilities of the position.

The Chaplain is expected to be tactful and considerate in their approach to all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, national origin, disability status, or religion.

Chaplains shall refer all legal or law enforcement related questions to on-duty personnel.

Actions not to Take

Chaplains shall not:

Carry firearms or weapons on their person when functioning as a representative of the Chaplain Program, unless they are a sworn member of the Department and approved to carry a weapon by the Chief or designee.

Unless a sworn employee of the Department, Chaplains shall not intervene in crimes in progress, but shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency if a crime is observed, and shall cooperate in any subsequent investigation as required by the investigating agency.

Solicit funds for the chaplain program from any person or business,

Dress Code

Proper attire is determined by the Chief or designee upon selection of the Chaplain.

Attire will be governed by the Chaplain’s employment status and chaplain’s function being performed.

If the Chaplain is not a Department sworn officer, acceptable clothing will consist of appropriate business or clerical attire.

Chaplains who are not affiliated as a Department member or sworn officer shall be issued appropriate identification that shall be prominently displayed any time while functioning as a chaplain including working within the police facility, riding with officers, or responding to a scene as a representative of the Department.

Identification and any other equipment issued by the Department to the Chaplain remains the property of the Department, and must be surrendered upon separation from the Chaplain Program.

Chaplains will be assigned a departmental email address that can be used for Department business and operate under all applicable policies and procedures in effect.

If the Chaplain is a sworn Department member or an employee of another sworn law enforcement agency, that chaplain will wear their Department duty uniform and shall wear the appropriate collar insignia for their clerical authority.

Chaplains from other law enforcement agencies shall be issued identification as a member of the Chaplain Program to display as outlined in this policy.

When terminated from the Chaplain Program, all identification and similar equipment shall be surrendered to the Department.