A special event, the Community Prayer Rally and Prayer Shield Honoring Our First Responders, is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Riverview Park.

MIAMI – They run in to protect, answering the call, serving the public, and now the community will have an opportunity to rally around, pray for, and honor the first responders of Ottawa County.

A special event, the Community Prayer Rally and Prayer Shield Honoring Our First Responders, is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Riverview Park.

This is the second such event in Miami sponsored by local churches, the Ministerial Alliance and the Miami Police Department Chaplain Corps.

MPD Chaplain Albert Amos and MPD Chaplain Herb Young said the event was created to bring the community together to rally around the police, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and law enforcement throughout the county.

“Herb Young and Southern Hills Baptist Church are the ones who started this,” Amos said.

Young said the event was created out of a desire to bolster the spirits of law enforcement and other first responders after the deluge of negativity toward law enforcement officers.

“It was actually born out the events going on in the news. I think it just really burdened a lot of people's hearts and I was just praying about it. With the funerals in Texas the police captain there in Dallas was saying, 'We need prayer, would you pray for us?' and I thought that's one thing we can do that's very specific and the churches can take a lead role in that,” Young said.

The event was a huge success with hundreds coming from all over the community and several churches to pray and encourage the first responders of the community

“It was a church wide effort that was really a great show of support, and we want to duplicate the event,” Young said, “It’s a chance to meet and greet and pray for our responders.”

The National Anthem will be sung, and the Pledge of Allegiance recited, and four prayers offered by different speakers, after which the attendees can circulate and meet the first responders of Ottawa County.

“We are going to set up over at the pavilion so we have a parking area where the guys can park their vehicles,” Amos said. “We are encouraging everyone to have an area where selfies can be taken with the first responders. This is a chance for kids to get a picture with a fireman, police officer, or EMT.”

Amos says the event’s goal is to show the first responders the community backs and appreciates their service and willingness to put themselves in jeopardy even in life threatening situations.

“The turn out was far better than what we expected,” Amos said of last year's rally. “The response was exceptional. People didn't really have a concept of who all was in the county for one thing, and I guess we were one of the first to include all of the county. With our diversity, we have the BIA, we have the Indian Tribes, we have the sheriffs office, we have volunteers, and several agencies that serve our community.”

Amos said the community is well served by each of the first responder agencies that all work to protect and serve.

“It gives the agencies an opportunity to show to the community that we all work well together too,” he said.

Amos is hopeful the rally serves as a morale boost for first responders.

The MPD Chaplain Corps, just one of the supporters of the event, was reignited in 2011 and the chaplains may now serve to help other county agencies if asked, according to Amos.

“There are four of us who are active chaplains now,” he said. “We have a lot of people who have no idea what the chaplains do or that we exist.”

The MPD Chaplain Corps is currently comprised of Amos, Herb Young, Darla Sajulga, and Kristi Bower.

Amos stressed the chaplains are strictly volunteer, non-denominational in their service and do not preach doctrine at any time while serving in this capacity.

Available at any time, day or night, the MPD Chaplain Corps serves in a wide variety of ways and only at the request of the officer. They may be called upon to assist in death notifications, assist and support victims in times of crisis, respond to suicide incidents, and serve as part of a crisis response team. They can also be called upon to deliver invocations at public ceremonies.

“They will call us out if there's an unattended death, if there's something where there's a lot of family,” Amos said. “When we come the first thing that we do is report to the officer in charge. He tells me what he needs. Most generally it's dealing with the family. I take care of them and keep them away from the crime scene.”

This frees the officer to focus on and complete his duties and gives the family members a source of information on the police processes underway. Chaplains also help the emotional family members deal with a death, and funeral home procedures

“When you have everyone just totally broke down, my way of working with them is to allow them to vent, and then I can start talking with them and find out what’s going on. I explain to them why things are happening the way they are,” he said. “Once I get them calmed down we're able to get a lot more information. I get all of the information I can, and that saves the officers from having to come and do it again. That allows them to do their work.”

Amos said the Chaplains are usually the last one to leave the scene and do follow up with the families when they can.

“Some of them ask me to do the funeral if they have no preacher,” he said. “The other side of it is then I have a chance to visit with the officers and then we can do de-briefing with them.

“Every department in Ottawa County knows they can call me,” Amos said.

Chaplains may visit sick or injured personnel, are a resource for counseling for members of the agency and their families, and serve as a liaison with other clergy in the community. Because the chaplains are on scene, they may have a better understanding of the situation the officer and families have experienced.

The chaplains carry special badges but carry no law enforcement powers or authority. They do develop an understanding of police work and the challenges law enforcement officers and their families face.

“We have an excellent department. Every department I've worked with has been fabulous for me. As a Chaplain, I am honored to be able to assist our citizens and first responders which is not only limited to law enforcement but includes fire, EMT services, and surrounding agencies,” Amos said.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.