Allen Altvater

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HCSO - Sheriff Chaplaincy

Allen C. Altvater, III




EFFECTIVE DATE: 08/04/2011                                                           RESCINDS:  NEW






The Volunteer Chaplain Program (VCP) is established to provide Highlands County Sheriff's Office members and their families with spiritual guidance, support, and information upon request.  To protect the integrity of this Program and it's chaplains, and the members of the Sheriff's Office, the selection process for the membership and assignment to the Program is strict in concept and policy and will be maintained to the highest professional standards.


This General Order shall apply to all members of the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.



A.  The Chaplain Committee is established by the Sheriff or designee, which consists of a Lead Chaplain, two (2) clergy members representing different denominations of faiths, the Law Enforcement Bureau Commander and the Detention Bureau Commander.  There is no quorum or other like committee standards established under this Program.

B.  The Committee serves as a screening committee and makes VCP recommendations to the Sheriff or designee.  The Sheriff or designee has the final authority in all matters concerning the VCP and its' members.


A.  Qualifications:
    1. Shall be appointed by the Sheriff or designee based on personal interview and / or other criteria.
    2. Shall be an active member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains (ICPC).

B.  All responsibilities of the Lead Chaplain shall be based on the needs and best interests of the Sheriff's Office.  The Lead Chaplain shall be responsible for:
    1. Recruiting new members to fill vacancies in the VCP as they arise.
    2. Conducting orientation for new chaplains prior to their initial ride-along, which consists of ride-along protocol, and deputy and chaplain safety issues.
    3. Coordinating coverage by available chaplain(s).  If a chaplain is not on duty during a crisis situation, Consolidated Dispatch, at the direction of the Incident Commander, will contact the Lead Chaplain who will coordinate chaplain coverage.


A.  The chaplain should be an ecclesiastically certified person in good standing with a minimum of five (5) years experience in ministry.

B.  Chaplains will at minimum have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution of divinity, theology, religious studies, or a closely related field.

C.  Chaplains will maintain appropriate qualifications as required by the chaplain's denomination or faith to serve as clergy.
    1. The chaplain must immediately notify the Sheriff or designee of any ecclesiastical discipline or other matters affecting their ability to serve as clergy.
    2. Ecclesiastical discipline resulting in the removal of a chaplain from active ministry may also result in the chaplain's immediate removal from the VCP.

D.  Applicants should have served a congregation for at least five (5) years.  This may be wavied under special circumstances after review by the Chaplain Committee, and approved by the Sheriff or designee.

E.  Applicants must provide a minumum of three (3) letters of recommendation, from any three (3) of the following:
    1. A fellow clergyperson,
    2. A leader in the applicant's organization or denomination,
    3. His ecclesiastical supervisor or like position as recognized by the Chaplain Committee,
    4. A Law Enforcement Chaplain,
    5. A Law Enforcement Officer.

F.  Applicants must consent to a background check by the Sheriff's Office, complete an application, and provide a resume that covers the applicants entire career.

G.  Chaplains must be willing to participate in training and seminars, as recommended by the Chaplain Committee.  Chaplains should be familiar with the community, including medical, mental health, and other similar helping resources.

H.  Chaplains should possess a broad base of experience and professional ministry, emotional stability and personal flexibility.

I.  Chaplains will be tactful and considerate in their approach to all people, regardless of race, sex, creed, or religion.


A.  Shall be defind in consultation with the Sheriff or designee as their role in the VCP is established.

B.  Shall be discussed in terms of service to members of the Sheriff's Office, their families and the community.

C.  Chaplains shall make themselves available to all Sheriff's Office members: providing counseling for members upon request.

D.  Personal requests for chaplain services by Sheriff's Office members may be made directly to any member of the VCP.  The chaplain roster shall be posted in deputies' rooms, break rooms, and bulletin boards throughout the Sheriff's Office and sub-stations.

E.  Chaplains will volunteer with members of the Sheriff's Office within the members; respective disciplines for a minimum of eight (8) hours each month in order to develop and maintain relationships of mutual trust and respect.  The chaplain, while riding with Road Patrol, will respond to all calls with that particular deputy unless the deputy determines, for safety reasons, that the chaplain should not be present.

F.  Chaplains must be willing to be reasonably available, at any time of the day or night, as needed.

G.  Chaplains should be available to respond to any crisis situation to provide comfort to the injured parties and their families, including cases of bodily injury, mental disturbance, death notifications, or other occasions at the discretion of the investigating deputy or detective.

H.  When appropriate, chaplains should ascertain from those needing pastoral help whether they have a particular religious affiliation.  If so, the chaplain shall assist in notifying the appropriate clergyman.  Furthermore, chaplains are prohibited from actively recruiting members or others into their congregation.

I.  Chaplains will be encouraged to visit sick an injured members at home or the hospital.

J.  Chaplains shall serve in Sheriff's Office functions consistent with their position, such as funeral and memorial services, promotional ceremonies, and other occasions at the request of the Sheriff's Office.  When speaking or praying as a representative of the Sheriff's Office, chaplains will remember the diversity of religious faith within the Sheriff's Office and community.

K.  Chaplains are subject to proper protocol procedures of the Sheriff's Office.  Chaplains shall not publicly criticize the actions of any law enforcement officer, Sheriff's Office member, fellow chaplain, or Sheriff's Office policy or action.

L.  Chaplains will wear the attire approved by the Sheriff's Office.  The Sheriff's Office will provide an ID card and a chaplain badge.  VCP members shall not dispaly their Sheriff's Office badge or similar insignia at any time when not conducting official Sheriff's Office duties, and must adhere to all trafic laws when responding to call-outs.

M.  The Sheriff's Office shall assign a radio ID to each chaplain and provide a two-way radio and vest for their use while on ride-alongs with Road Patrol deputies.

N.  Chaplains have no arrest or enforcement powers and will not take any law enforcement action unless otherwise authorized to do so.

O.  Chaplains will not carry, or have in their possession, a firearm at any time while on duty or representing the Sheriff's Office, unless specifically authorized to do so.

Issuing Authority:  Susan Benton, Sheriff

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