Chaplains train with police to comfort communities ‘in distress’

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – About a dozen Grand Strand chaplains have joined together to create the Clergy Action Team. The group went through training with the Myrtle Beach Police Department on Monday.

“That was a new experience for me,” said North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Chaplain, Jay Ortiz.

The Clergy Action Team is made of up chaplains who work with schools, like Coastal Carolina University, and law enforcement agencies like North Myrtle Beach Public Safety, the Horry County Police Department and the Horry County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s designed to create networks of our clergy and the congregations for when communities are in distress, are in dispute or have issues,” said Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall.

Myrtle Beach Police hosted the training and taught the chaplains about several topics including stops, seizures, and arrests. They also took the chaplains into a simulation room that put them in real-life distress and active shooter situations.

“I’ve never been through that, and it certainly did bring some realness to what they do,” said Ortiz.

Chief Gall wants the chaplains to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the public.

“They’re out there wanting to help and we’re looking for help,” says Gall.

Ortiz agreed and said he wants to help anyone who’s going through a difficult time.

“As chaplains, we love people, and so we want to be there in their time of need,” he added.

The Clergy Action Team will continue to train and grow their group so they can help communities if a major tragedy occurs.

“Just helping where we can whether it be with the officers that were involved, whether it be with the families of the victims that were involved, whether it be with the victims themselves,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz and Chief Gall hope this initiative will spread across Horry County.

“We want to widen the scope,” said Chief Gall. “Not just have police chaplains but having them from all the various churches all the denominations and then starting to get the congregations involved.”