Abilene police chief to ask city council for full-time chaplain, church group pledges funds

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Abilene police face a lot in their daily routines. From traffic accidents to murders and everything in between. It can take a toll on the officer and families involved. That’s where a chaplain comes in. They help ease the pain during those difficult cases.

Police Chief Stan Strandridge announced at a news conference last week a group of church leaders called 1-Kingdom is working to fund a full-time chaplain position for APD.

There’s no doubt it’s been a rough few years for the Abilene Police Department, with the murder of Officer Don Allen in 2015, the murder of newborn baby Ashley one year later, and in 2017 the unexpected death of Detective Elise Ybarra. During each of these difficult times, Chief Standridge says the “chaplains stood right there alongside [APD] us.”

One of those chaplains being Bob Pipes. Pipes was “called upon to officiate” Baby Ashley’s graveside service.

But, being a chaplain means being there for more than just high-profile cases. Suicides, homicides, traffic accidents, whatever the case may be, chaplains like Pipes are there to help support officers and the families of victims.

“Just trying to brush shoulders with them as much as we can so when there is a need, we can be there,” Pipes says. “But also family members. Maybe more especially the family members of these victims.”

It’s easy to see being a chaplain for APD requires a lot of work. Work that’s currently handled by two part-time chaplains.

A group of church leaders called ‘1-Kingdom’ has pledged $117 thousand for the first 3 years of a full-time chaplain for APD.

“If this is going to make a difference in our city, if this will bring positive change, if this will benefit our Police Department and our citizens, we’re in. We want to do it,” says New Hope Church Pastor Chuck Farina.

And Chaplain Pipes agrees it will help the department and citizens of Abilene.

“When we have someone full-time that way that the officers will feel more comfortable perhaps going to that person, whoever it is,” he says.

Chief Standridge will appear in front of the Abilene City Council on Thursday to seek approval to hire a full-time chaplain. He says the workload is enough for one full-time and one part-time chaplain.

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