Last week, Mason County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Gary Shirbish graduated from the Police & Fire Chaplain Academy held at the WA State Criminal Justice Training Commission in Burien, WA. Chaplain Shirbish joins the Mason County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Corps with Chaplain Bill Adam and Chaplain George Albertson. Chaplain Shirbish is a retired Pastor, formerly from the West Seattle Baptist Church and moved to Mason County with his wife Beverly. Chaplain Shirbish is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, with a Masters in Theology.
The Mason County Sheriff’s Office follows the following laws pertaining to Law Enforcement Chaplains.
RCW 41.22.010 – Legislative Findings – The career of a police officer is highly stressful, resulting in unacceptable rates of divorce, alcoholism, low morale and suicide. The nature of law enforcement work requires that much information be kept confidential, unfairly burdening the emotional capacity of law enforcement personnel. Police Officers may become hidden victims of society because of their daily work with crisis.
The legislature finds that law enforcement chaplains can provide emotional support for law enforcement personnel, including counseling, stress management, and family life counseling.
The legislature also finds that law enforcement chaplains can serve as a crisis intervention resource for personnel of police, fire, and corrections departments, and medical examiners or coroners.
RCW 41.22.030 – Local Law Enforcement Agencies – Volunteer Chaplains Authorized – The legislature authorizes local law enforcement agencies to use the services of volunteer chaplains with an agency.
RCW 41.22.040 – Volunteer Chaplains – Duties – The duties of a volunteer law enforcement chaplain include counseling, training, and crises intervention for law enforcement personnel, their families and the general public.
In 2007, Sheriff Salisbury established a formal volunteer Chaplain Program for the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, which augmented the agency’s very first Chaplain who was appointed in 1994, Chaplain Bill Adam.
The program currently consists of three volunteer chaplains who are available to respond to the needs of public safety personnel or the public 24 hours a day seven days a week. The duties of a volunteer law enforcement chaplain include counseling, training, and crises intervention for law enforcement personnel, their families and the general public, and also include critical incident debriefings for public safety staff. Chaplains are non-denominational, do not advocate their own personal beliefs, work with all religions and provide needed assistance in times of crisis.
The Mason County Sheriffs Office Chaplain Corps stands ready to assist the needs of the Sheriff’s Office as well as serve other police, fire, corrections, and public safety agencies. Our chaplains are all college graduates and have attended the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission Chaplains Academy. Since 2007, the chaplains have responded to over 300 calls for service, which have included requests to deliver death notifications, and counseling Deputies and other Sheriff’s Office personnel. The chaplains have conducted numerous weddings and memorial services for Officers, Deputies, employees and members of the public.
Chaplain Shirbish will focus on covering Chaplain calls for the North Mason area, but will be available for the entire county. Sheriff Salisbury stated that Chaplain Shirbish fulfills a great need within the Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Corps since the departure of Chaplain Steve Satterfield and Chaplain Maury Jenkins.
Attached is a photo taken immediately following graduation ceremonies. Standing left to right are Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury, Chaplain Gary Shirbish and Chaplain George Albertson.
October 15, 2013/submitted by MCSO