When you meet Theo Schaffer, you immediately feel at home. His loving spirit gives a sense of welcome, and his quick wit paired with his infectious laugh solidifies that there is something special about this man.
Those are important qualities to have now that Schaffer supervises the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chaplaincy Unit. He oversees the unit which is made up of volunteers who provide a ministry of presence to members of the department, their families and the community.
“Chaplains serve as personal counselors and sounding boards to officers when they can’t go to anybody else,” Schaffer said.
The CMPD chaplain is a clergyperson with an interest in supporting those who work in the field of law enforcement. Support is offered to all persons, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, creed or religion. CMPD chaplains are assigned to patrol divisions and specialized units.
In addition to supporting officers with issues like burnout, stress or trauma, CMPD chaplains foster relationships between law enforcement officers and the public.
“Whether it’s an officer-involved shooting, death of the officer’s family, crisis, mental health, emotional health, divorce or when life just happens, our chaplains are here to serve,” Schaffer said.
The CMPD chaplains are volunteers, and like other Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department volunteers, they are interested in helping ensure the safety of the citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Volunteers are a vital part of the Police department. They help the department and the community and have the satisfaction of helping others.
“When our officers don’t have time in their schedules to go to church or to a mosque, we have a diversity of incredible servants from multiple faiths and belief systems who are present when those difficult times arise in the life of our officers,” Schaffer said.
A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Schaffer and his family moved to Charlotte in June of 2016.
He also preaches each Sunday at his church, Grace Church Charlotte. He shares wisdom and passion that love and acceptance can strengthen the ties that bind people together.
“We can do great things together. When you have the opportunity to do good, do it,” he said. “We’re not here to do things to be seen, we are here to be what God has called us to be.”
It’s hard to keep up with the energy of Schaffer. He goes from community caregiver to father of three to board member in lightning speed always doing it with a smile and a lot of “y’all” tossed in with some Southern flair.
He points out that chaplains can have special access to community resources and organizations and facilitate partnerships between the department and important individuals, such as community leaders, elected officials and charitable organizations, to improve relationships and cooperation.
“I've been entrusted to shepherd, develop and deploy some incredible people through the auspice of the chaplaincy, to become one within the organization and with our relationships in the community to build hope,” he said. “By default, we can create lasting change.”
Schaffer, as with everything he does, wants to inspire people and create more hope.
If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.
© 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group