Gainesville Police Department (GPD) spokesperson Graham Glover knows what it takes for a chaplain to effectively serve a police department and a community.
“I do it, I’ve done it, I get it,” said Glover, who is a Lutheran pastor and served for 12 years as an Active Duty US Army Chaplain, most recently at the Chief of Chaplains Office at the Pentagon. Prior to joining the Army, he was pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Chiefland.
Glover took the job as a GPD spokesperson at a difficult time. It was just after George Floyd’s death set off national protests and while the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging.
Glover asked GPD Chief Tony Jones about starting a chaplain program to meet the many needs and got permission to “stand this program back up,” he said. Now he’s seeking help from community clergy and pastors who want to volunteer to serve the GPD officers and the community alike.
“We are seeking local clergy interested in volunteering,” said Glover, who has served as the department chaplain but is focusing on his role as public information officer.
“The hope is to have clergy that represent Gainesville,” he said. “Different faiths, denominations who would be available to interact to serve and counsel citizens and officers.”
Glover said he’s looking for chaplains who will be productive and engrained in the department.
“Not just a master list, but chaplains present for counseling at GPD and able to do ride alongs and spend time with them and civilians,” he said.
Glover has deep ties to the area as a graduate of Buchholz High School who attended University of Florida and seminary and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. He was on active duty military service from 2008 to 2019 and has been a part of the Army Reserves since last year.
Now, he’s giving back to his community by working for the GPD, and his goal is to help add more spiritual support to officers and civilians.
“Any resource we can put in front of them to allow them to do their job better,” Glover said.
The GPD recently sent out a press release asking for community clergy who were interested in volunteering to reach out to Glover.
“Prospective chaplains should: maintain high spiritual and moral standards; possess a caring and understanding attitude toward all people; be willing and available to respond to situations where the presence of a chaplain is requested; and never have been convicted of a criminal offense or offenses involving moral turpitude,” the release said.
Glover said he has had a lot of response from the community—and the more the better.
“Being a chaplain is different than being a parish pastor or serving in a civilian religious organization,” Glover said. “While you remain faithful to your religious teachings, as a parish pastor you’re never asked to water down what you preach or teach.”
Glover explained that as a chaplain, clergy will serve people with various religious beliefs.
“It’s a wonderfully different experience,” he said. “To minister to people who wouldn’t come into your church on a Saturday or Sunday.”
One of his greatest joys of being a chaplain for the GPD and the military was getting to serve alongside people in their work environment.
Prospective chaplains interested in serving the GPD should also be actively serving a Gainesville religious congregation or organization, the volunteer chaplain description states.
Glover himself will review applications, which will be sent out upon request to email@example.com or 352-393-7524.
After reviewing applications, Glover said prospective chaplains will submit to an agency background investigation including, but not limited to fingerprinting, driver’s license check, and an FCIC/NCIC check.
Once Chief Jones approves volunteers, they will undergo a formal training seminar at GPD.