ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – They’re often never in the spotlight, but for 50 years Albuquerque Police Chaplains have been playing a quiet, important roll in keeping the department and community going.
“They’re physically and emotionally solid. But spirituality- is the fulcrum on which emotional and physical balance. So, we’re here to help them have balance,” said Mark Bussemeier, APD’s head chaplain.
The unit is made up of 22 people, all volunteers and encompassing several different types of religions. “It’s the worst job you could ever have that you love,” said Ann Montoya, an APD Chaplain.
Chaplains often respond to the most horrific situations to be there for and comfort both first responders and family members.
“The worst day for me is to go and give death notifications because I’m knocking on somebody’s door with an officer, they don’t know I’m coming and I’m giving them the worst news they can receive that day. My heart is pounding out of my chest and I feel so badly I’m having to give this notice to these folks,” said Montoya.
Days like that stay with the Chaplains, but they say a higher calling keeps them going.”We hope that we’re “prayed up” because we have to be “prayed up when we go into this job,” said Montoya.
Bussemier says they’re not there to push a certain message or preach. “We’re all ministers but our ministry, in this case, is a quiet, prayerful presence in a sea of chaos,” said Bussemeier.
It’s a behind the scenes job that Bussemier compares to a ship’s “keel”, which keeps ships level. “For 50 years we’ve been helping keep things upright,” said Bussemier.
Come this Saturday, APD’s Chaplain Unit will turn 50.
Bussemeier says the unit has made such an impact, APD main is named after their first-ever Chaplain, John A. Price.
Montoya says she continues to see the difference they’re making in the community. “We get those wonderful letters and cards that let us know we’re doing something good and making a difference in this city and I hope that we continue to do that,” said Montoya.
The department is celebrating the anniversary over the weekend by hosting an event for past and present Chaplains.