A police officer often sees more in a day than a person will see in a lifetime.
Dealing with the stress and strain of death, drugs and violence is not easy, said Pastor Steve Desanto. Without a way to cope, many officers can turn to unhealthy release like drugs and alcohol. Looking to provide a healthy escape, Desanto recently went to training to become a chaplain.
“There is a tremendous amount of stress and isolation for officers and there is a tendency to isolate themselves,” he said. “There has to be some provision to give them peace and comfort.”
A chaplain is a minister to a specific group, such as hospital or nursing home patients. They offer support and comfort and are trained to handle specific issues.
At a weeklong training course, Desanto attended in St. Louis, former law enforcement officers, lawyers and professors taught participants about the peace officer culture and how God’s word relates.
“Jesus Christ was the ultimate peace officer,” he said. “The officers here are putting their lives on the line daily for your peace.”
For their service, Desanto said, it is only right they have someone to confide in to release some of their burden.
“Tragedies touch us all, but we fail to see that peace officers see it every day,” he said. “In anyway that I am allowed, I would like to be of service. They deserve all that we can do to make life more livable.”
In the last year, Desanto moved to Payson and took over as pastor at Shepherd of the Pines Lutheran Church.
Before moving to Payson, Desanto worked in St. Louis for 35 years in information technology.
In early June, he was sworn in as a member of the Gila County Sheriff’s Posse.