St. Andrews Optimists recently heard a presentation by Rev. Dr. Eric Skidmore, who leads the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program (SCLEAP).
Skidmore’s organization responds to requests from all over South Carolina, and even outside the state, to assist law enforcement when a chaplaincy makes the most sense. It does not impose or insert itself into stressful situations uninvited, but rather responds with as much speed as possible when it is requested.
The SCLEAP program is one of 10 nationally that provides their services, and as such, is sometimes called on to assist in out-of-state scenarios.
In Skidmore’s words, when SCLEAP receives a call for help, “they kind of know what they’re gonna get……a program that is tried and true and is sort of a standard of care in the high-speed environment of public service.”
It is not uncommon for SCLEAP to be deployed to multiple sites simultaneously, since just in South Carolina, there are more than 17,000 law enforcement personnel in service.
Skidmore cited a recent situation where teams were sent to three locations on very nearly the same day. The situations it becomes involved in have a wide range of possibilities: anywhere from an officer being involved in a shooting, a hostage situation, a highway fatality, or even such high profile incidents as the Charleston shooting. It was even called on for assistance at the Virginia Tech shooting.
One ministry offered is peer conferences where officers rehash situations that are causing them residual stress. Skidmore said officers, who can usually sense authenticity, gain a degree of resolution when they realize they are not in a situation alone and there are others who have had similar experiences. Those meetings are known as post deployment seminars. SCLEAP also partners with Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Columbia seminary in a public safety chaplaincy training program.
Pictured are Optimist President Jay Downs, Dr. Eric Skidmore, and speaker host Rick Abercrombie. Skidmore was presented with a copy of the Optimist Creed.