About Chuck Gilliland
Chuck Gilliland is the president of the National Board of Directors of The Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers. He has authored two books, The Book of Proverbs Through The Eyes Of A Cop and The Gospel of Matthew Through The Eye Of A Cop. Chuck has a heart and passion for law enforcement personnel, both encouraging believers in the field as well as sharing Christ with others.
Can a Police Officer Be a Christian?
“Believe it or not, we hear it alot. I get emails constantly. Can a police officer be a Christian? There was a guy that wrote a book. I won’t give his name or the book because the premise was military and police officers cannot be Christians. He tried to make a lot of arguments to prove his point. No, I believe that every police officer should be a Christian. Of course I believe every person should be a Christian.”
Did Chuck Gilliland Always Want to be a Cop?
“I did. My grandfather was a highway patrolman for Texas. I remember as a little kid sitting around in his house and his brother, my uncle, was also a State Trooper. I remember them exchanging stories and just could see the passion in their eyes and yeah, from a young age that was the thing I always wanted to do and I knew I was called to it.
When I was in high school I felt very strongly the calling of the Lord, but I didn’t know at that time that you could be called into law enforcement. I thought gosh is the Lord calling me to be a pastor? No, I’m not smart enough to be a pastor. Is He calling me to be a music leader? No, I can’t sing a tune. So my thought was gosh, He must be calling me to be a youth pastor. I went to college, got into law enforcement and Criminal Justice program at Charleston State University and went to work for the Dallas Police Department.
It really wasn’t until a couple of years after being a police officer that I realized that God had put me there for a reason. He gave me a ministry to law enforcement officers at the time just in my area. I’ve seen so many people that he’s put a deep passion on their heart for law enforcement because we are considered an unreached people group. Only ten percent of all law enforcement officers in the United States claim to be Christians.”
The Reason Chuck Gilliland Wrote His Books
“I’ve heard you mention this time and time again. I’m the little a author. We know who the big A author is, not claiming that any of these books are gospel by any means. Just goes to show that God used the least of these to do some pretty good things and I definitely when it comes to reading and writing and coming up with a book, I’m the least of these. So I can’t claim any credit for it whatsoever.”
How God is Using Chuck Gilliland
“I came back from a FCPO board meeting where we had discussed officers from all over the country calling up and saying, ‘We need some material for law enforcement. We can do Bible studies but we want something that relates.’ It just kind of went in one ear and out the other because when I’m listening to this I know immediately it’s not from me. When we got back home to Texas, I was laying in bed about 11:30 one night, a week or two after I’d gotten back, and the Lord put it on my heart clear as a bell.
You need to write something in a briefing format that a police officer can understand. So I got up and I ran to the kitchen and I grabbed my pen and started writing. I went back to bed, and ten minutes later I got up and went to the kitchen and wrote some more, and went back to bed. Finally my wife said, “Just go in there and write. If the Lord wants you to do something just go in there and write.”
Why Does The Average Unbeliever Become a Police Officer?
“I know some officers who got into it for just the right reasons. I mean they wanted to help people and that was the end goal. As a rookie cop that is what most of them get into it for. Now it changes soon after the adrenaline dumps and chasing the bad guys. Back in the early nineties there was a big stink about how some of the larger departments in the United States were recruiting people. Miami in particular, if you looked at their recruiting video, it was like Miami Vice. It was cops on speedboats, chasing people down in cars.
And it looks great, but at the same time, if you contrast that one to the video or the promotion that New York City was putting out, New Yorks recruitment video had an officer walking a beat saying “hi” to everybody. He knew everybody by their name. This was the friendly approachable police officer. He was the guy you could trust, the guy you depended on. So there was this big contrast of which is the way to go? I think it depends on which kind of officer do you want as to the way you recruit.”
The Public Perception of Police Officers
“About a week ago our police chief came in to our briefing and the topic had been Ferguson and how people hate us and on and on, and the chief sat and listened for a moment. He’s a very wise man. I have a lot of respect for him and he said, “Guys, that’s a small percentage of the population. Most of them love you.
Most of them know what you’re there for.” As I go out through the day, I’ve noticed people stop me and say, “Hey, I really appreciate what you do. Thank you.” I’m trying to keep a very stoic face because we are taught to be in control at all times. You don’t want to just gush but it means an awful lot. There’s a lot of people out there that do appreciate it.
Like I said, we are trained to be control freaks.We are taught from day one in the Police Academy, every time you go into a situation you have to maintain control, and if you don’t have it you better get it or you’re going to get hurt. That spills over into every aspect into our lives and I do believe that’s why we have such a low percentage of men and women who follow Christ because we’re control freaks. It’s hard to give that control over to Jesus into our lives.”
How Does Chuck Gilliland Help Police Officers Resist Temptation?
“The same way Jesus sent His disciples out. You can’t do it alone. Jesus sent His disciples out in twos. I firmly believe that in every law enforcement agency especially where there’s a Christian that, and I’m not pushing FCPO. I don’t care whether it’s your local church, whether it’s a different police organization, need so you have to have some place where you can come together and fellowship, where you can lean on each other, where you can be accountable to each other.
One of the favorite verses we use is Proverbs 27:17 and it says, As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” It’s incredibly hard to go out there by yourself as a Christian and try and John Wayne it because when you do get frustrated and you do get down, you need somebody to talk to. Typically, police officers, even the ten percent don’t go to church so we have to provide that for ourselves. That’s what FCPO does, tries to help establish an organization within a local city or town where other guys from other agencies can come in and can be that iron that sharpens each other and be that accountability group.”
How Did Chuck Gilliland Resist Temptation?
“God has blessed me with a shallow brain, I think. There will be a lot of times where I’ll look back on something and I realize, “Oh my gosh, that person was really trying to give me something.” But at the time, it went over my head. You know I believe that’s a gift from the Lord. I think it depends on what your focus is.
For an officer, whose facing that, it is tough. When I was in Dallas, there was one time in particular where my partner and I got called to a loud music hall, which in this part of Dallas, was a very low priority call. We show up and a girl comes to the door in a negligee and we’re both married, young, newlyweds, looked at each other, and we both were like, “Uh-oh we are in trouble.” She wanted us to come in and talk to us.
There was no loud music, we left, she called back the next day wanting us to return. I knew and I went home and confessed to my wife that I did nothing, but here’s what’s going on, and this is not good. I’ve always thought of myself and I hated it when I was younger, I was always a little naive to things going on around me. But again as I grew up and grew older, I don’t know if that’s not a gift from the Lord because I can’t really recall a lot of situations, especially lately in the last ten years or so, where anybodies tried to stop me at a traffic stop or…and maybe the Lord knows that I’m such a weak little person that He’s afraid I’d give in so He doesn’t allow me to be tempted with that.”
How Does Chuck Gilliland Deal With Tension Amongst Officers?
“Believe it or not, we get some of those politics within the department because I don’t know of a single department that doesn’t have a racial mixture of officers. I made sure right after all this was over, my shift knows this but we’ve reiterated this time and time again. “Guys, when we get in the car and we go out there, we’re blue. We’re not white, black, or brown. We’re blue and we have to be blue. When you get off shift and you go home and you take the blue off, you can be whatever you want, but we can’t afford to be anything other than blue when we’re at work.
Again maybe just being naive we’ve had not racial problems at least on my shift. I can’t speak for every department everywhere obviously. It’s not something that I’ve seen within the department. I’m sure the officers have opinions, feelings about what goes on. It seems to be there’s enough respect when we get to work that we don’t talk about it. When Officer Ferguson got acquitted, the white officers weren’t all screaming, “Yeah, he got off” because I know other officers know how that’s going to make some of the black officers feel, and vice versa. They’re very respectful and we’ve got to be a family.”
The Changing Perception of Police Officers
The social media and media access to all kinds of opinions. You know growing up if you wanted an opinion, you turned the TV on to one of three channels and that was it. Now there’s opinions coming from every direction. You can find an opinion that agrees with you and that does tend to make it harder because when you talk about authority, and if you find an opinion that agrees with you and it came from a national media, you think you’re right. You think that’s your truth. It’s just like you say, don’t let the world teach you theology, you’ve got to be anchored in the truth.”
How to Minister to a Police Officer in Your Life
“I would continuously invite him or her to your church. Getting them into a place where they can hear the truth is the absolute best thing. It’s what we all need. If you can get them into a local law enforcement ministry, I think it’s even better because law enforcement is kind of a closed community. We get to where we are very untrusting of the people we serve.
In a typical day the people we come across are violators. Ninety nine percent of the population are non violators. We don’t see that ninety nine percent, but if you see that one percent day in and day out, you get to where your perspective is everybody’s a violator. That’s the only kind of person I come across so we become a closed society. We won’t confide in anybody else accept for another police officer because they know how I feel.
That’s why it’s so important to have police officers who are out sharing the gospel, the good news with other police officers, because they’ll listen to another police officer. But if you’ve got a friend and you’re not a police officer, get them to church, get them to somewhere they can hear the truth. Most of all pray for them. Pray that God will soften their hearts because we’re a hard hearted, stiff necked group. We really are.”
Chuck Gilliland’s Advice For Officers That Feel Distant From God
“The officer that knows Christ but is far away from them: bringing them back to the truth, praying for them. Romans Chapter 13, if you can just share that with them and bring them back because for law enforcement we like to use that is: all of you non law enforcement out there, you need to obey authority. But you know what? We’re under authority. We’re men and women under authority and a lot of times we don’t use the same measuring rod on ourselves in our lives.
But we have authority and our authority is Jesus Christ and we need to be submissive to Him so prayer, prayer, prayer. One of the big things, I think police officers lack especially ones that have fallen away is knowing that we lose sight of where our hope and where our peace comes from. Police officers on their days off don’t have a lot of hope or a lot of peace, they get very calloused. I think telling them that Christ and God’s Word will bring you back to peace and bring you back to hope. That’s the only way you’re going to get it. It may be a good start.”
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