Everyday police officers risk their lives. They come back in off the streets needing someone to open up to.
The Crockett Police Department is just one of the many departments now reaching out to area pastors to help lend guidance to those wearing the badge. Lufkin and Nacogdoches have similar programs and earlier this month, the Angelina County Sheriff's office announced their first official chaplain.
The four pastors chosen to be part of the program were Pastor Kenny Dickenson of First Baptist Church, Pastor Mauricio B. Mejia of Cristo Es Senor IRA. Iglesia Bautista, Pastor Lance Mann of St. Luke's Baptist Church and Pastor Steven Meadows of West Side Baptist Church.
"What God has called us to do is to help people," Mejia said.
The chaplains will help the police force handle issues most people don't have to face in their eight hour work day.
"They need someone they can take their mask off with and just be real and get in touch with some emotions that maybe they are trying to ignore in their life," Dickenson said.
"They are not wired to use force and be okay with it," Mann said. "They are trained to use force at the most extreme last resort."
"Most police officers; they don't have anyone to go to, other than each other because you become fearful," Meadows said.
The four pastors all come from different backgrounds.
Pastor Lance Mann came to East Texas from Newark, NJ last year. Mann's neighborhood was larger than the city of Crockett and had one of the nation's highest crime rates.
"I've seen it and I have also helped to deal with the struggles of a community," Mann said.
Pastor Mauricio Mejia is an immigrant from Honduras. Mejia said he can be a bridge between the force and a Hispanic community that is taught police officers are bad.
"As a Hispanic pastor, I can let them know they are there to serve and they are there to protect them," Mejia said. "We are here to make a difference in the community."
A bridge each one of these men are looking to form in their own way.
All four pastors will be used on an as needed basis and will remain pastors at their respective churches.
Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.