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Law enforcement chaplains discuss their role in bringing healing to officers

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Law enforcement chaplains were called to action this weekend, following the shooting spree.

They provide emotional and spiritual support for department members and survivor's families after a tragedy.

Newschannel 3 talked one-on-one with the men and women dedicated to bringing healing to West Michigan officers.

The crisis intervention team is only deployed a handful of times a year in Kalamazoo, and this weekend they helped first responders process what happened.

In Lansing today, Michigan State Police Chaplain Deb O'Neil Lewis spoke before a new class of graduates for the Motor Carrier Division. She offered words of wisdom and encouragement.

Chaplain Deb tells us after the shooting spree in Kalamazoo this weekend, her number one priority was to offer a listening ear to the responding officers on scene.

She tells us the horrific images can cause post-traumatic stress disorder unless they're talked about.

"Immediately and continually talk, not to bundle everything on the inside, to debrief, to check in with their own support system and everything they have to do to take care of themselves physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically," said Chaplain Deb O'Neil Lewis.

Chaplain Dennis Jokela with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office was part of the crisis intervention team called to action Sunday after the shootings.

He tells us he joined dispatchers and law enforcement from several agencies to talk about what they saw and heard.

He says opening up to their peers makes it easier to go home to their families at night.

"The bible promises everything is going to be worked out for the good, for that person's benefit. It may not seem like it at the time, or feel like it, but the bible tells us everything works together for our good," said Chaplain Jokela.

Next week the Law Enforcement Chaplains Network will be meeting to debrief about the shooting spree as well.

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