Chaplain serves as mediator between police and public

11 years ago

Chaplain serves as mediator

between police and public

By Kathy McCarty
Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE — A local man has found a way to combine his love for his hometown and his passion for assisting others into an opportunity to serve the city and its citizens as chaplain of the Presque Isle Police Department.

Staff photo/Kathy McCarty

    MARK NEDDEAU, of Presque Isle, serves as the chaplain for the Presque Isle Police Department. Since July 2012, he has provided spiritual guidance for both citizens and officers during trying times. Neddeau works as a mediator between the police and the public, helping to dispel tension in difficult situations.   NE-MarkNeddeau-clr-c-sharpt-40

    “I was hired to work up here managing two apartment complexes, Helen Noreen and Greenbrier. I enjoyed it and gained a reputation for helping remove drugs from both sites. For a year I worked diligently with the police department to eliminate drugs and crime. I helped set up the first neighborhood watch program,” said Mark Neddeau, chaplain with the PIPD.
    In a short time, Neddeau said he could see a difference.
    “We drummed them out — got rid of drugs and crime. We went from an average of five calls a month to zero for the remainder of my time there,” he said.
    It was during that time Neddeau said he became more involved with law enforcement officers.
    “We started building a working relationship. I spoke with the chief (Matt Irwin) and we organized meetings at the police station. I’d never told him I was a minister. I began feeling something in my spirit and decided to approach him. I’d been a chaplain for nursing homes for years, so I’m accustomed to offering spiritual guidance,” said Neddeau.
    “I asked Matt if he’d be interested and he said, ‘yes.’ That’s how it started,” he said.
    Neddeau was made chaplain of the PIPD in July 2012. He serves on a voluntary basis.
    “Mark has provided our officers with another resource to assist with victims of crime or other difficult experiences faced from time to time, such as death notifications where spiritual guidance may be helpful. Further, these sorts of consolation from the clergy are typically more significantly received than when offered by a law enforcement officer,” said Irwin.
    Irwin said the relationship between Neddeau and his staff continues to grow.
    “My staff is getting to know Mark in a more personal way as well. Officers oftentimes find trusted members of the clergy to be a great outlet for the stresses they endure as a result of their job,” said Irwin.
    Neddeau said he’s seen tremendous success in aiding both the public and officers in trying times.
    “I met with a recent suicide victim’s boyfriend. We held a memorial service for the woman with about 120 present. We talked about grieving and the process of grieving together. It’s about building relationships and trust,” said Neddeau.
    Another instance Neddeau said he worked with a woman involved with drugs and crime.
    “She’s changed her life and was recently baptized,” said Neddeau. “There’s a direct moral impact on the community by doing these things.”
    Neddeau said it’s about “softening the blow between police and community and serves as another opportunity for redemption.”
    “I enter with the police, talk with people and by the end of the evening, we often find a change in individuals. It gives them an opportunity to focus while the police do their job,” he said.
    He said drug and alcohol use and violence are getting worse everywhere, including here. That’s where he says his services can help.
    “When I can get involved, it gives an avenue of escape,” said Neddeau, who’s expecting to receive his certification as a Christian counselor this month.
    “That will allow me to sit in courtrooms and offer my counseling. I can legally take charge of a person’s life; it will be confidential and legal,” said Neddeau.
    This “avenue of escape,” according to Neddeau, “gives another dimension to the police department.”
    “I’m also there for the officers. They’re dealing with tremendous stress. I’ve built a relationship with PIPD officers. They’ll call me now — let me know when things happen; they trust me,” he said.
    Neddeau said it’s a calling and one he takes very seriously.
    “You have to have an interest. A person doesn’t make any money doing this. You have to be professional, listen and not share what you learn in the community. You have to keep information confidential. Once a person starts counseling with me, I have to keep it confidential. I have to draw the line between what’s heard and what I share,” Neddeau said.
    Irwin said Neddeau has been a great asset to the department.
    “Mark has done a great job of building relationships with the officers and his presence has already made a very helpful different to the police department and some of our residents,” said Irwin.
    Neddeau wants the community to be aware he’s available and just a call away.
    “I hope the community will know I’m out there, that they can reach out before it becomes a crisis situation,” said Neddeau. “And it doesn’t end with just a call. I do followups. I’ll give them my card and welcome their inquiries anytime.”
    For more information on Neddeau’s service as chaplain, call the PIPD at 764-4476 or e-mail