Chaplain joins ranks at Poulsbo Police Department
By JENNIFER MORRIS
North Kitsap Herald Reporter
September 8, 2010 · 6:09 PM
POULSBO — Ken Bailey will offer support in times of crisis, will be a liason to the community and a friend to officers, and sometimes simply provide a “ministry of presence” as the Poulsbo Police Department's first chaplain.
“Most of it is being there,” said Bailey, who will help Police Chief Dennis Swiney shape the department's chaplain program as it grows.
The program began in June, and already Bailey has proven useful, Swiney said.
In the span of a few months he's been called on as a resource in both crisis and non-crisis situations, becoming a new arm of the city's law enforcement and a public presence it wouldn't otherwise have, “which validates the need to have the program in place,” Swiney said.
Swiney set a goal to implement a chaplain program for Poulsbo Police when he took the top job in 2007. This year, as it approached fruition, he didn't have to look far for a willing volunteer.
“Ken has taken the initiative. He has expressed interest and has an abundance of experience with the program,” Swiney said.
Bailey also serves as a chaplain for the Poulsbo Fire Department, the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office and the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management's Critical Incident Stress Management team.
He hesitated to become a chaplain in 2007, when first approached by Poulsbo Fire, but quickly gained experience and took on the volunteer task full-time. He previously worked for Campus Crusade, and moved to Poulsbo from Woodinville in 2002.
First responders have “a whole set of stresses that are not common to the general public,” Bailey said. A chaplain can offer an outlet, a place to share and vent about on-the-job traumas or personal difficulties.
One third of active duty and retired officers suffer post-traumatic stress, according to data from awareness forum Tears of a Cop, and suicide rates among police, roughly 18 out of every 100,000, are higher than that of the general population, studies have shown.
“It wears and takes a toll if you don't have a constructive way to deal with the things you have to deal with in this job over time,” Swiney said.
Bailey's duties aren't all in crisis mode. He's becoming part of the team, getting to know Poulsbo officers while things are good, he said.
He also appeared at the department's National Night Out in August.
Bailey's wife, Bobbi, often helps with his chaplain duties, especially in crisis situations involving families. He works with officers of all faiths.
“If I could create a perfect job, this was it,” Bailey said. “I saw there was a real need out there for chaplains. It was also something I really had a heart that I wanted to do.”Contact North Kitsap Herald Reporter Jennifer Morris at email@example.com or 360-779-4464.