The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 23, 2013

Police chaplains bring comfort

Mankato hosts chaplain training conference

MANKATO — When a police officer calls Ronald Maynard late at night, he doesn't know where he will be before another hour passes.

He does know it won't be a pleasant situation.

Maynard is one of five Mankato Department of Public Safety police chaplains who takes turns answering that call whenever it comes. It could be for an officer involved in a shooting or for the family of a firefighter injured or killed on duty. Most often the chaplains are asked to provide a death notification to a family — breaking the news to survivors who have lost someone in a car crash, to suicide or through some other tragic event.

While serving as a chaplain in another community, Maynard once spent three days at a lake. Police officers and firefighters were searching for a drowning victim. He was comforting the victim's family.

"It always comes in the middle of the night," Maynard said. "You never know where you are going to be or how long you are going to be there. You have to bring your lunch."

Maynard is also one of about 50 police chaplains from Minnesota and its surrounding states participating in a regional training seminar through the International Conference of Police Chaplains. The seminar, which is taking place this week in the Public Safety Center, was organized by Katie Menne, the lead chaplain for Mankato.

"I volunteered to do it," she said. "They called me and asked me if I would host this thing and I said I would love to."

Since taking that call in January, Menne said she has spent hundreds of hours planning presentations, organizing hotel space, arranging meals, notifying participants and all of the other things required for hosting a large seminar. Wednesday's presentations were about dealing with an officer death or injury, self-defense, ethics and media relations.

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