When cops are caught on tape in what appears to be beatings or inappropriate behavior, the public can be shocked and concerned. What leads to police brutality and how should departments handle it? Chuck Ferrara has some insight. A former officer, Ferrara is now a United Methodist pastor who also volunteers as a chaplain to help cops cope with the stress of their service. Reed Galin reports.
(Locator: Bethel, Conn.)
Being a cop can be a tough job.
The Rev. Chuck Ferrara/New Life Community Church United Methodist: “I can think of no other profession where somebody may potentially have to take another person’s life, short of a combat soldier in war.”
Nat/Police radio: “5-9-6…”
Fifty employees at the Bethel, Connecticut police department have someone they can turn to who understands the stresses of law enforcement.
Barbara Wilson/Police Dept. Dispatcher: “If you have a problem, you can go to him with anything.”
The Rev. Chuck Ferrara/ New Life Community Church United Methodist: “There are alcohol abuse problems, drug abuse problems. Police officers have one of the highest rates of divorce.”
United Methodist pastor Chuck Ferrara is a volunteer police chaplain, who patrolled some of the toughest neighborhoods in the country during 16 years with the New York police department.
Capt. Robert Cedergren/Bethel Police Department: “This is a difficult job oftentimes. And I think that Pastor Chuck brings a lot to the table here.”
Ferrara says police suicide is a big problem—two officers have taken their own lives in the small Bethel department. So he trains supervisors to watch for the signs.
The Rev. Chuck Ferrara/New Life Community Church United Methodist: “I suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder before post-traumatic stress disorder was even diagnosed. I was involved in a shootout in Harlem where I lost one of my partners.”
Ferrara says stress can also result in officers using excessive force on the street…but he says that’s no excuse.
The Rev. Chuck Ferrara/New Life Community Church United Methodist: “It is never acceptable. Ever.”
And Ferrara says his work helping officers now is just as important as his years of fighting crime on the streets.
Pastor Ferrara has written a book called Beyond the Badge: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Cops and Their Families. He says it’s a guidebook to help officers and their families lead more balanced lives.
Ferrara is senior pastor at New Life Community Church United Methodist in New Fairfield, Connecticut.
Also, see Pastor helps police with stressful jobs.