The saying goes: “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” Which is why the Gordon Police Department does not just talk about honoring God in their work, but strive to foster a culture defined by prayer, ministry, and service.
According to Chief Glenn Deckert, the culture of the department hasn’t always been so good. Over his 29 years at Gordon College and his past eight years as Chief of Police, he realized that the type of culture they cultivated in the office affected their work on campus. And while Deckert has taken steps to promote a prayerful environment within the department, he explains that it should be a natural approach for Christians.
“It’s no different from the way that Christians should think about life and work in the kingdom, which is that everything that we do, if we’re following Christ, is kingdom work,” Deckert says.
For Deckert and his officers, serving as the Gordon police is a ministry.
“That’s our goal. To be living out the life of Christ, here in this community, as police officers,” Officer Jeff Hoy says.
Gordon Police display service in their duties, which include helping with flat-tires and offering night escorts. But serving also means making every contact with a student count. “It might be a 30-second interaction or a word, but you can still make an impact,” Deckert said.
That impact all begins with hiring. While Deckert looks for candidates with proficiency in the necessary police skills, he also looks for individuals who fit in with the ethos of ministry of the force. The uniqueness of the role can make hiring more difficult, but Deckert noted that God has blessed them and provided the right candidates.
One of them was Officer David Kim, who was a pastor before he joined the force three years ago. He now serves as the department’s chaplain.
“I believe that ministry is at the heart of everything that we do here,” Kim said. “We’re not here by accident. But we’re here because God brought us here, and everyone has the mindset to serve, and that’s key.”
Kim leads the department in prayer and worship and shares from the Bible at their monthly meetings. In addition to ministering to Gordon officers, Kim has a ministry for local policemen called: Bibles for Law Enforcement. He visits precincts with Bibles and Kane’s donuts and offers spiritual and emotional support.
On campus, Kim says that he prays throughout his day. “When I go into emergency situations, I pray. Even when I start my shift. Even when I patrol, I pray for this campus. I pray for the student’s safety and peace.”
As first-responders, Gordon police officers have special insight into how students are doing. Not only do they respond to situations and emergencies, they also pray. Deckert recalls praying with a distressed student who returned to campus intoxicated but worried about how the offense would affect his situation. As a department, the officers pray for the students at their monthly meetings.
As a 24/7, 365 department, the campus is always on their minds. And while Gordon is generally very safe, the police department does not take it for granted. They patrol during the day and night, check buildings and suspicious vehicles, and listen to local police scanners.
Narah Kum ‘20, who works with the officers as a student dispatcher, said that their presence is no small thing.
“They’re here to sustain security and well-being on campus,” Kum said. “I think I used to think that being a police officer was all the action. But a lot of the time they’re patrolling…being present to serve.”
Though an attitude of service is important, Deckert also explains that they are vigilant about maintaining their training. Gordon may be a quiet campus, but they are not taking any chances. This includes being armed. But Deckert is quick to say that he knows that comes with the added responsibility of demonstrating to the community that he and his officers are worthy of their trust. It all comes back to culture.
“Our goal is to earn that trust with the way we act. And that has to include being professionally and technically worthy,” Deckert said. “We don’t take it for granted, we train hard, and we try to be prepared and sharp all the time. We want people to know that we’re a part of this community, and we care about it.”