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police chaplain

No matter whether incoming or outgoing, all are thankful for city service, opportunities

By Joanne Beck

If not for God’s call to become a pastor, Donald Shirk may have been working alongside the men in blue he so proudly served as a police chaplain, he says.

Shirk was honored for that service of 22 years by City Council during its conference session Monday evening at City Hall. The senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church now for 36 years, Shirk was led to a different path, and has embraced his chaplain role as “a great privilege” to work with the men and women police officers at the city station, he said.

“I’ve been so honored to serve along with them in the course of time and to also consider them as friends. And so I just have greatly appreciated that, I also just wanted to say what a tremendous privilege it's been to serve the past and present officers of our community. We have extraordinary men and women in that capacity,” Shirk said. “No one has the kind of front-row seat into the challenges of dealing with the darkness and the brokenness of this world than our law enforcement community. And that can take a toll on you. And it's been my privilege to be able to come alongside them and help remind them of that because law enforcement is God's idea. It comes with his blessing and his comfort and his strength.”

Shirk also gave a nod of confidence to incoming chaplain Zack Dawson and his heartfelt thanks to the City Council for the group’s “tireless work” on behalf of its citizens. Dawson said he was thankful "that I get the opportunity to serve the police and the community in this way and to be a part of helping to better any needs that are here."

"And to be a support to the police officers in the department and then the community members as well," he said. "So I'm just thankful for the opportunity."

A Stakeholder Group report was issued in January 2021 regarding various aspects of the city police department, including the fact that being a law enforcement officer can be extremely stressful and challenging enough to impact the mental wellness of police officers.

Batavia Police Department planned to implement an Officer Wellness Program to support the safety, health (both physical and mental), and wellness of every member of the force with additional resources to help them cope with the acute and long-term trauma of police work and the effects it can have on one’s personal life. Resources such as the Police Chaplain program were to be made available to the members on a confidential basis.

In other recognitions Monday evening, Wade Schwab was presented with a proclamation for his baker's dozen of “dedicated service as a vital member of an emergency response team” since September 2009.

Schwab was “instrumental” not only in training other team members and coordinating resources but as a leader working in the field.

“He served his community with professionalism and compassion,” Councilwoman Kathy Briggs said, reading the proclamation. “In a true spirit of appreciation for over 13 years of selfless, dedicated service to the city of Batavia, the City Council of the City of Batavia does hereby make this proclamation to sincerely thank Wade Schwab for his service to our community and to wish him well.”

He in turn thanked the city for the opportunity, noting that it has been “a very humbling experience.”

Top Photo of Rev. Donald Shirk; incoming police Chaplain Zack Dawson; retiring emergency response team employee Wade Schwab; and City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. presenting the proclamation to Donald Shirk during a City Council meeting Monday evening. Photos by Howard Owens.

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