OPCD Brings On a Full-Time Chaplain for Team Members and Family

The Orleans Parish Communications District (OPCD) has entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) to have a full-time Chaplain dedicated to the first first responders for the City of New Orleans, and provide services to all OPCD team members and their families.

“Every 911 phone call we receive is someone’s worst day,” remarks Executive Director Karl Fasold. “The importance of having a trained counselor, and in our case it’s someone who served in law enforcement here, is so important. For our team to talk with someone who has been where we are, who knows what we hear, and can help us stay at our best is critical to serving our citizens and visitors. As a leader, my first priority is making sure our staff are supported and have the tools they need to do their job. Their mental health is a very important part of that toolbox.”

“Chaplains are woven into the DNA of Baptist Community Ministries,” said Larry Johnson, Vice President of Chaplaincy Services at BCM. “For nearly 30 years, we’ve been dedicated to serving our community. Our chaplains provide support to local healthcare centers and all eight districts of the New Orleans Police Department to heal and protect the human spirit. Now, as we extend our support to first responders handling 911 calls, we’re not just expanding our services – we’re throwing a lifeline to those facing the toughest moments in life.”

Executive Director Fasold also shares insight on the volume of work by the OPCD team. “We receive over 1.2 million calls a year. Every call is hearing someone else’s pain. While adding a chaplain, along with the other mental health resources we continue to deploy, is a great start, we’d also like to remind everyone calling they’re speaking to a neighbor, a member of the community, who has answered the call to serve. We are well trained to handle your emergencies, but being kind to one another is also important.”

The OPCD Chaplain Program, sponsored by Baptist Community Ministries, provides spiritual and emotional support to members of the public, the agency, and their families regardless of any religious affiliation. Chaplains provide ministry of presence at roll calls, after difficult calls, and in other department activities. OPCD Chaplains are required to earn a graduate theological degree, complete clinical pastoral education, achieve professional certification, and receive ecclesiastical endorsement from a recognized religious body. OPCD Chaplains primary responsibility is secular, they are not present to proselytize, but if requested they may provide prayer, spiritual conversation, or religious rites.