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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2018

Citizen Soldier balances police officer and chaplain careers

By 1st Sgt. Crista Mack 9th Mission Support Command

When Chaplain (Maj.) Philip McBroom isn’t busy serving the Fairbanks, Alaska Police Department as an officer of the law, he works in the U.S. Army Reserve as an officer of God, serving as the Officer in Charge,127th Chaplain Detachment, 303rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fort Shafter, Hawaii. 

How can one balance both careers?

“It’s really not as difficult or conflicting as some may think,” McBroom said. “In fact, my first passion is ministry, and everything else I do in life is informed by what I understand from the Bible. My understanding of how I am to function as a leader in society, whether it is in government or the military, is shaped by what the Bible says. The Bible is very clear to me, in Romans Chapter 13 specifically, it talks about the function of government, and managing people and maintaining law and order.”

McBroom originally worked as an assistant pastor at a North Pole Area Church. He then accepted a volunteer chaplain position with the Fairbanks Police Department while working at his church. 

“I had a fantastic time doing chaplaincy work in the police world and it was something that I saw evolving later into serving in the military as a chaplain,” he said.

McBroom served seven years as the Fairbanks Police Chaplain, which turned into an opportunity to attend the Fairbanks Law Enforcement Academy.

“I attended the academy as a chaplain, initially as an attempt to further understand law enforcement officers and better minister them and relate to them,” he said. “I started volunteering as a Reserve officer and then an opportunity arose for me to take a full time position.” 

“In law enforcement there is a tremendous opportunity to help people, to assist folks that are in need, as well as to try and point people back on the right path when they get off,” McBroom further explained.

In 2011, he joined the Active Army as a chaplain. He served five years and transitioned to the Army Reserve. He returned to his hometown and his previous position with the police department.

Ninth Mission Support Command Chaplain (Col.) Charles Lynde, McBroom’s higher headquarters chaplain, explained how, theologically, navigating the two seemingly different careers do not, in fact, conflict, but rather enhance one another.

“In the Protestant Christian tradition, any vocation can be done to the glory of God, as long as it is to the glory of God,” agreed Lynde. “Being a police officer and representing administration of justice can be done to the glory of God. It’s not like one is more special than the other, so for Chaplain McBroom, it’s easy for me to understand how one can do it theologically.”

Similarly, with each career choice, McBroom stated, he felt he was on the correct path.

“I have felt God’s direction in every path that I have chosen to take, I haven’t had any doubt that he was directing me,” McBroom said. 

Navigating through these careers, the road has not always been smooth, according to McBroom, who is a Baptist, but as a chaplain serves persons of all faiths. 

“There have been some events such as separation from family, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and more, that I have always counseled others in. After joining the military, I had always tried to help counsel people in their life challenges, but then I personally experienced some of those difficulties myself,” McBroom said.

“I lost a very close friend that was also a police officer and a member of my church,” he said. “He was my best friend for a decade. If I did not have the Lord to lean on and I didn’t have his truth I don’t know how I would have survived it.”

Having personally lived through and endured personal struggles, coupled with a career as a police officer and personally living real life situations, McBroom confided, people tell him it is easier when others seek him out for counsel because of his experience.

“My main reason for serving in the Army Reserve is explicitly to serve people,” he said. “The Army Reserve is a fantastic way to put me in touch with people that are hurting that need support, and it is the opportunity to give some of the foundational truths that my life has been built on. There’s not really anything in my time in service that’s been more fulfilling than that.”

McBroom is appreciative the dual role of policeman and ministry because they complement one another by serving people. “The opportunity to still be a law enforcement officer while still being involved in ministry is a privilege and I wouldn’t give it up for anything,” he said.