La Crosse Area Law Enforcement Chaplaincy

There are many times when a police officer is called into a situation where they feel a special counselor would be helpful. Initial police assistance in such situations is important but the officer's extended involvement may keep the officer away from other urgent situations and calls. For this reason, the clergy of the Greater La Crosse Area are joining hands with the Police Department to provide the La Crosse Area Law Enforcement Chaplaincy. 

This program is a service offered to officers and the community through a field service ministry. Chaplains provide guidance, counseling, and comfort in times of crisis, and such physical help as the Chaplains are equipped to give on an emergency basis. They do not recruit for their churches or help only those persons of their denomination. The Chaplain Program seeks to simply serve mankind. "In as much as you have done it to the least of these, my brothers, you have done it unto Me." Each day, the members of Chaplain Program are busy LIVING that statement.

The Chaplain Program is composed of a Head Chaplain, many clergy of the Greater La Crosse Area who represent all major faiths, and the police liaisons. The Head Chaplain and Duty Chaplains are volunteers for the Police Department, completely donating the time they serve. Churches are encouraged to support ministers volunteering their time through their own home missions giving or other resources.

The Chaplain Program is available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to handle any crisis situation that may arise. It is this availability that contributes to success of this program. Duty Chaplains serve as a 24-hour on-call resource one day each month. Reserve Chaplains fill any times that are open or as needed.


In 1970, Father William Wentink asked the Rockford, Illinois Police Department if he could ride-along. The first night he did, three children died in a fire. The officer he rode with asked Father Wentink if he would assist them on the scene and with the victims' family members. He did assist that evening and from that experience, Father Wentink developed the Police Chaplains program.

Father Wentink still serves the Rockford Police Department as the Head Chaplain in what has become the ideal program in the country. He was the founder of the International Conference of Police Chaplains (ICPC) in 1973.

Organizational Chart



The Chaplain Program is funded through donations and church home missions programs. There is no charge for any of the services of the Chaplain Program--they are offered as a public service by the Police Department and the Chaplain Program.


The Police Department provides a pager to Duty Chaplains and other resources if they are performing as a ride-along with a Police Officer.


A short Police Chaplains Academy preps the clergy for duties. Brief quarterly meetings and one-to-one, liaison to clergy, information sharing times are the backbone to success. All clergy and liaisons are encouraged to attend ICPC.

Police Chaplains assist with:

  • Death Notifications
  • Major Fires
  • Accident Calls
  • Bereavement
  • Suicide Attempts
  • Abuse/Neglect
  • Family Problems
  • Lonely Persons
  • Despondents

For further information, contact the La Crosse Police Department Chaplaincy Program Liaison, Sergeant Tom Walsh at (608) 789-7206.