Police Chaplains Sworn In At Council Meeting

SWEARING IN – Fr. Simon El Hajj, Rabbi Eli Garfinkel and Rev. Jamin Powell, left to right in white shirts, are sworn in to their FTPD Chaplaincy positions at the June 25 Township Council meeting.

Three of the five Chaplains in the Franklin Township Police Department’s “revamped” Chaplaincy program were sworn in at the June 25 Township Council meeting.

Rabbi Eli Garfinkel of Temple Beth El, The Reverend Jamin Powell of Community Baptist Church, and Father Simon El Hajj of St. Sharbell Maronite Catholic Church took their oaths with FTPD Capt. Sean Hebbon and members of the Township Council looking on.

Also participating in the program, but not present at the meeting were the Rev. Dante Quick from First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens and Imam Syed Rizvi from Masjid-e-Ali.

“Chaplains are no stranger to the Franklin Township Police Department, we’ve had them here before,” Hebbon said. “Under the direction of Public Safety Director Quovella Maeweather, we’ve revamped and updated our chaplain program.”

“The Franklin Township Police Department is a very diverse police department that represents a very diverse community, and we wanted our chaplains to also represent that diversity,” he said. “You see here a range of faiths and a range of different backgrounds to offer their services to not just our police officers who are in need of prayer at times, and officers do need prayer … sometimes they hurt and suffer as well, as well as members of our community.”

“There are things that happen here that require us to go beyond just preserving and protecting, beyond what we carry on our duty belts,” Hebbon said, “sometimes we have to help people in an even deeper way. That’s where the Chaplains come in to offer deeper support.”

Rabbi Garfinkel has had prior experience as an FTPD Chaplain, serving for 18 years. Rev. Powell served as Chaplain for the Orange County (NY) Sheriff’s Department.

“For 18 years the phone in terms of the Chaplaincy program has been very, very quiet,” Garfinkel said. “In fact, there have been no calls that I am aware of.”

“On the one hand, I hope that the phone remains quiet, because if that phone rings, that’s not good news,” he said. “One the other hand, I hope and I know that my colleagues and I will be ready to help, should that need arise.”

Mayor Phil Kramer said the township’s diversity is displayed in the Police Chaplains.

“We’re better served this way,” he said. “I’m sure each of you will contribute, and it sounds like you’ve already done so in the past.”

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