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Ocean City Approves Police Chaplain Position

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Ocean City Police Chief Jay Prettyman wants owners to lock their cars and take the key fobs to help prevent auto theft.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

Ocean City will be adding a chaplain to the police department, a volunteer position to provide comfort and counseling “in times of need.”

Voting 7-0 at its meeting Thursday night, City Council approved an ordinance to create the chaplain’s position at the request of Police Chief Jay Prettyman.

“Police chaplains serve an integral role in providing comfort to members of the Police Department, as well as the public, and aid in community policing,” the ordinance says.

The Council members enthusiastically embraced the idea.

“In today’s climate, I think this is an absolute necessity for any department,” Councilman Jody Levchuk said.

The police chaplain will be a volunteer who has no rank or salary. It will be a three-year appointment and the person who is selected must be in good standing with the New Jersey State Chaplain’s Association, according to the ordinance.

Prettyman explained that his request for a chaplain is an outgrowth of the resiliency training and programs required for all New Jersey police officers.

In 2019, New Jersey’s attorney general issued the “Officer Resiliency Directive,” a statewide program touted as the first of its kind in the nation to support the emotional and psychological well-being of law enforcement officers.

“As one part of the program, I want to establish faith-based resources for our staff to take advantage of in times of need – in addition to the psychological counseling and treatment we already offer,” Prettyman said in a text message. “I want to offer a broad base of programs for our staff, and the chaplain program is just one part of the overall program. I am anxious to see what it will grow into.”

Prettyman noted that he wanted to wait until Council gave the ordinance final approval before he began considering candidates to become police chaplain.

Ocean City is joining a nationwide trend in which police chaplains are taking on a bigger role in counseling and supporting law enforcement officers and members of the public.