Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team are ministering in the Des Moines, Iowa, area where people are not only grieving the loss of two police officers but also are grappling with the terrifying way in which they died.
Officer Justin Martin of the Urbandale Police Department and Sgt. Anthony Beminio of the Des Moines Police Department were sitting in their patrol cars early Wednesday morning when they were fatally shot in surprise attacks. The suspect was arrested later that day.
In memory of the fallen officers, the Des Moines and Urbandale police departments each put a patrol car in front of their headquarters. Four Billy Graham Rapid Response chaplains are offering emotional and spiritual care at these memorials, which are covered with balloons, flowers and other mementos.
“That’s the best place for our chaplains to be because people will come there to grieve and so many have other tragedies going on in their lives,” said Jeff Naber, manager of chaplain development and ministry relations. “Hearts are open because of the grief and the hurt.”
The chaplains originally deployed at the invitation of local pastor Al Perez, also a chaplain with the Des Moines Police Department. Perez’s church was among those that worked with Franklin Graham during his recent Decision America Tour. Des Moines was the first state capitol stop on that 50-state tour encouraging Christians to pray, vote and engage.
Beyond ministering to the community, the chaplains also have been invited to attend the Des Moines Police Department’s roll call, which is the time officers and staff meet before the start of a shift. Thursday evening was particularly emotional as officers who had just worked the night of the shooting were returning to duty. Chaplains are there to listen as officers work through anger, denial and ask the ever-present question: Why would God allow this to happen?
“We know that God has designed our ministry to help people through those processes of grief,” said Naber, a former law enforcement official who also has lost a fellow officer.
It’s an emotional time, and the chaplains joined the room of roughly 100 as officers and staff learned everything they needed to know for the upcoming shift. Assignments were handed out and updates were made.
“Officers come to that roll call to get these things, but also to get information that could save their lives,” Naber said, adding it was a blessing that Des Moines included the chaplains.
“Chaplains have an opportunity to attend those roll calls to give officers information that could give them life—eternal life through the Gospel message.”
Please continue to pray for the families of the fallen officers as well as the local law enforcement officials and the community as a whole.