Chief Mark Kraft had been thinking for some time about starting a new Chaplain Program for the Sidney Police Department. Almost as if they had read his mind, two chaplains from the area, meanwhile, reached out to ask about the possibility of serving in that capacity.
“There was a kind of organic desire to serve in this way,” Kraft told the Sidney Herald. “So it was kind of a natural program to get started.”
Michael Backhaus and Paul Turek were sworn in Monday, Jan. 11 as inaugural members of the Chaplain Corps for the department’s volunteer program by
Sidney Mayor Rick Norby.
Backhaus is pastor for Bible Baptist Church and Turek is lead pastor for Faith Alliance Church, both of which are in Sidney. Both men are long-time residents of the community and will serve in a volunteer capacity for the department.
“With the attack on our police departments around our nation I thought it would be good to be an encouragement to those serving on the force here in Sidney,” Backhaus said. “I want to be there for moral support for our officers and our community.”
Turek, meanwhile, believes it is a unique opportunity to serve.
“I’m honored to be able to serve those who serve and protect us,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting the officers and being able to assist them in any way I can. I want to thank Chief Kraft for all the work he has done to make this possible.”
While their role has already begun, there will be some training involved. Both will also be taking ride-alongs with police to see what they do, as well as other on-the-job trainings. There will also be classes for the men at the Police Chaplain Academy in August.
Kraft said he hopes the program will add to the community’s support system not just for his officers, but the community as a whole.
“As police officers, our duties are to investigate matters and gather facts,” Kraft said. “Sometimes, in those tragic situations, we are not always able to provide that emotional support to people. And also, when things are all said and done, our officers are also having to deal with the emotional fallout from these kinds of situations themselves.”
That was particularly true in 2020 and 2019, Kraft said. Among these tragedies was the shooting death of Tyler Hayden in 2019, as well as the deliberate homicide of Kylie Ann Hinds, a 2-month-old infant.
Having a chaplain program will not only offer an additional resource to help officers working on such a stressful case, but will be a resource to help provide comfort and spiritual support to the family members involved in such tragedies.