VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - After a Valdosta Police officer was ambushed Friday, July 8, 2016, a special group of volunteers is getting recognized for helping his fellow officers.
"All of a sudden we just saw doors open, people running, and we could tell that something serious had happened," Winston Taylor recalls the day Valdosta Police officer Randall Hancock was ambushed and shot.
"Then we got to the scene and realized that one of our officers had been shot. It was sad and it was hurtful," Taylor explained.
The shooting was a high stress situation that put all of his training to work. Taylor is a volunteer chaplain for the police department.
"Their job is simply to be there and to be a peaceful contact for the officers," Chief Brian Childress said about the chaplains.
The chaplains program started at VPD a year ago. Chaplains aren't officers, they are volunteers hand picked by Chief Childress from local churches.
"I'm an outsider. I'm not a police officer," says chaplain Taylor, "I'm an outsider that they've allowed to come in."
Their duties go beyond tragic events like the shooting. Chaplains are always on-call to talk with officers and will even ride-along with them during their shifts.
"You just need someone to come along and say not everything in the world is bad," Chief Childress explained.
The department currently has 4 chaplains and is looking to bring on 2 more. Chief Childress said officers see terrible things everyday, the chaplains give officers the opportunity to talk about it.
"These chaplains are a breath of fresh air," said Chief Childress.
The chaplains will be recognized at the Valdosta City Council meeting July 21, 2016.