In this session of Chaplain’s Class, we will continue to outline some guiding principles and procedures for performing a death notification. If you remember from our previous sessions, everyone in every circumstance deserves at the very least the dignity of receiving the worst possible news with compassion.
Upon arrival to the location where you will be making the death notification, follow the outlined protocols for radio usage. It is important for the dispatch center to know your location, status, and times for your safety and recordkeeping.
“Chaplain, why would we need to do that? We are going to tell someone about the death of their loved one.”
Fortunately, or unfortunately, as a member of the law enforcement community you are forced to live in the real world, nearly all the time, but especially when you are on duty. A death notification, though seemingly mundane, can be a very heightened, intense, and potentially dangerous situation because of the emotions involved. When people become emotional, and all people will become emotional in their own way, their behavior and/or reactions become increasingly difficult to predict, if predictable at all.
The notification team will cautiously proceed together to the dwelling. In some cases, the occupant(s) will meet you outside before you have an opportunity to set foot on the front porch much less knock on a door or ring a doorbell. Because of the available communication technologies today, they may already know why the notification team is at their home. Other times, they may suspect that it is bad news because the only time they have contact with the authorities is in negative situations. The latter attitude speaks to part of the reason you are providing this service. There needs to be a time when even the most disparaging people experience a positive contact with an authority figure. Even as their world may have just caved-in and the worst possible scenario has just become reality, you can be a professional and make a positive contact for your agency and yourself, with this family.
Assuming that the notification team makes it to the entrance without making initial contact, the designated notification team member will ring the doorbell or knock on the door. (Please note that in the middle of the night it may take more time for the occupants to respond. Also in the middle of the night scenario, the notification team should practice safety in all forms just as if you were making an initial contact on some sort of complaint. People awoken from their slumber can react oddly or as if they are going to face some sort of threat. It is not unheard of for a homeowner to meet someone at the door with a weapon in-hand.) Always practice safety first, for your team as well as the occupants.
In our next class, we will learn more about what to say when the door opens.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
Those are just a few things that could generally describe Bergen Mease. However, more importantly he is a Believer in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. He is a patriot of the United States of America that comes from a US Navy family. He lives with his wife and children, whom they are raising with conservative leanings. He served as a law enforcement officer and more recently as a law enforcement and emergency services Chaplain. His mission is to write about topics that will make everyone think about how they treat others both personally and professionally.