By Vicki Stamps
UNION—Law enforcement officers are the men and women who protect us. But what happens if they need help? More and more of these officers and their families are finding support through the ministry of Christian Law Enforcement Summit.
The Summit team of state troopers, highway patrol, sheriff’s deputies, police officers and federal agents with their spouses volunteer to share their faith and life experiences with other law enforcement officers. The Summit meets twice a year at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, N.C.
Krista Neace and her patrolman husband, Rick, of the Union Police Department, began working with the team last fall.
“This Summit is for the entire law enforcement family,” Krista Neace said. “The stresses of the job take a toll on the entire family. Divorce is higher than any other profession. Rick taught a breakout session called “When Crisis Comes Home” which discussed both the role of the officer and a Dad in certain crisis situations. I taught “Standing Firm When the Walls Crumble” which looked at the emotions a police wife might encounter: everything from fear to anger to resentment.”
Neace knows that law enforcement is a career where trauma is encountered on a daily basis.
“If an officer must shoot someone, most people don’t realize the stress and guilt produced,” she said. “If the officer is a Christian, he struggles with God’s forgiveness.”
According to Neace, the Summit may be the last hope for keeping some families together.
“I’ve witnessed the bitterness, anger and resentment of family members,” Neace said. “The resentment comes from being alone so much and the fear comes from the realization of the possibility of becoming a single parent because they never know if their spouse could be shot. Every three days there are four deaths. We follow these statistics. There are a lot of issues involved with law enforcement.”
Neace relayed an experience she observed last fall.
“An officer attended the Summit after he had been shot in the face,” she said. “He lived because he crawled under the car. His partner was killed and his marriage was crumbling. He was living a nightmare.
“God did a work on his heart and we were able to minister to him. He was able to attend the roundtable sessions and he was able to unleash the fear and hurt to work through all of the junk. He was able to share because all the roundtable participants understood where he was coming from. When he went home, he was a changed man and he was able to put his marriage back together.”
The Summit purposely limits the attendance at each session.
“We try to have 35 or 40 couples or individuals attend,” Neace said. “We want to keep the setting intimate and provide one-on-one communication. We also need to have enough staff to take care of the children.”
Neace said that they provide a variety of keynote topics throughout the week.
“In addition, we have a time of worship and praise,” she said. “We try to incorporate songs from a long time ago. We try to remind them of a time less stressful. Many have become so hardened and this is helpful.”
A successful family life and law enforcement are a blend for Rick and Krista Neace. Rick has been in law enforcement for 20 years and they have three children: a 14-year-old girl, an 18-year-old boy, and a 21-year-old young man who is ready to graduate from the police academy.
“Both of us have tried to talk him out of it,” Krista said. “It is different than it was years ago when Rick started. But, it is the calling of Romans 13.”
More information about the summit is available at www.clesummit.org. In addition, Krista Neace has written books about the law enforcement life. Lives Behind the Badge was released in December.