The Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy was envisioned by the Rev. Edward Robinson “Rob” Dewey in November 1990. And now, 25 years later he says, “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought it would be as accepted as it is by the 38 agencies we serve or the community at large.”
A 25th Anniversary Celebration for the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy was held at the Charleston Marriott on Wednesday.
According to Dewey, when the chaplaincy began in 1990 he was doing ride-alongs with deputies. Now, alongside emergency personnel, chaplains are first responders in their own right.
“As I look around the country and we continue to be one of the most active chaplaincy programs in the United States, I realize we couldn’t do this without the community and the agency directors’ support,” he said.
The philosophy is “a ministry of presence in a time of need.”
Prior to his attending seminary and being ordained as an Episcopal priest, he was a certified police officer in the state of North Carolina. Later, while serving as Assistant Rector for St. John’s Church on John’s Island, S.C., Rev. Dewey served as a volunteer police chaplain for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. This unique combination of experiences helped him realized that due to the very nature of their jobs, law enforcement officers frequently require the support and counsel of qualified professionals in the management of stress-related symptoms.
He also saw that there was a very real need to have a chaplain on the scene of a police response who could act in a pro-active manner and offer support and comfort to both the officers and the public/victims, and that these needs were largely not being met in the community.
With the assistance of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Charleston County was formed in September of 1991. It was originally an adjunct ministry of the Episcopal Diocese, responsible for raising its own funds, with an advisory board consisting of community volunteers who administered the program. In 1993, the name was changed to the Coastal Police Chaplaincy in order to include the seventeen agencies it now serves.
In 1994, the Coastal Police Chaplaincy was incorporated as a nonprofit organization. That same year a survival follow-up program was established, all staffed by volunteers. These people are trained to administer follow-up support to victims.
The Coastal Crisis Chaplains are on call twenty-four hours a day and can be reached by county and city emergency dispatchers, as well as officers and citizens. Chaplains offer a unique type of assistance, especially in a sensitive situation.
The Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy is a member of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Chaplains Association and the International Conference of Police Chaplains. Rev. Dewey is one of 120 trained FBI Chaplains in the United States and a SLED Chaplain. He also served as President of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Chaplains Association from 1992 until 1996. All Chaplains are ordained ministers.