Police chaplains encounter dangerous crime scenes and volatile people during the calls they respond to every year.
But until Thursday, they did it all without the security of wearing ballistic vests.
Armor of God, a Tulsa-based ministry that is committed to providing free body armor to law enforcement officers across the country, donated ballistic vests to each of the 17 chaplains on the Tulsa Police and Fire Chaplaincy Corps.
Tulsa Police Capt. Travis Yates said five other area police agencies that cannot afford vests for their officers also received vests Thursday.
The cost of the vests was about $25,000.
McDonald's, Bama Pie Co. and Interim Solutions For Government made significant contributions to make the donations possible, he said.
Danny Lynchard, who leads the Chaplaincy Corps, said the donations are very much appreciated because "where the officers go, we go," and that can often include dangerous places.
The chaplains also can be assaulted because emotions run high at the scenes where they respond.
"The officers have been very good at protecting our chaplains," Lynchard said. "As far as being assaulted, there have been times when a chaplain has made notification to next of kin, and sometimes the shock and the anger is turned on whoever is delivering the message."
Tom Branch, pastor of Bellview Baptist Church and a volunteer police and fire chaplain for 23 years, has been on his share of dangerous police calls and ride-alongs with officers. The chaplains go with officers when they need to notify people about family members who have been injured or killed.
"One time, a lady answered the door, and she had a butcher knife up her sleeve," Branch said.
The woman had an immediate outburst when she heard that her father had had a heart attack, he said.
"She pulled the knife out. She panicked, as people often do," Branch said.
The woman wasn't trying to cut him, but she was brandishing the knife about, he said, adding that after some tense moments, she was persuaded to put it down.
The vests are not the only safety equipment the chaplains have received in recent years. Last year, after responding to a fatal crash on a dark highway, Branch realized the need for the chaplains to have reflective vests, he said.
"Now we wear the same reflective vests that the police do," he said.
The presentation was made during the one-day survival course "Winning Mind," presented by national training experts Dave Smith and Betsy Brantner Smith, Yates said.
Armor of God, a program of Ten-Four Ministries, has donated 1,450 vests free of charge since May 2009.
Additional information on the program can be found online at tulsaworld.com/vestforlife
By NICOLE MARSHALL World Staff Writer
Special Thanks to the Tulsa World. This article has been changed from it's original appearance. The original article can be located here.