Daughter of Slain Officer Becomes Police Chaplain

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Chaplains are often called upon to walk alongside people in crisis and serve those who serve—whether in military, hospitals or emergency services.

Chaplain Sue Kuipers serves officers like Lt. Larry Vargas, who is retiring after 30 years with the department.

When Sue Kuipers became a police chaplain with the Hayward (Calif.) Police Department, she knew firsthand the crises that face officers.

Kuipers’s father, a 20-year retiree from the Navy, was a community service officer with the Hayward Police Department in the 1970s.

“Two days after my 17th birthday, June 29, 1974, he was attacked and killed by a prisoner attempting to escape,” said Kuipers. Kuipers’s father loved his job, whether working dispatch, enforcing meters, or finally serving as a night shift jailer.

“During the years since my father’s death, I often thought that I would like to somehow renew my ties to our police department. Whenever there would be a major incident where an officer was injured or worse, I would long to find a way to offer support and comfort to them and their family,” said Kuipers.

Kuipers, who is director of youth and education at Christ’s Community Christian Reformed Church in Hayward, found out after her ordination as a ministry associate that Hayward’s police department didn’t have a chaplain. With much encouragement and advice, she set out to change that.

Nearly a year into the job, she has had the opportunity to pray with an officer through the challenges of his job, hold a child who witnessed her brother being hit by a car, sit beside a woman whose boyfriend just died from an overdose, and more.

While police departments are often considered “closed communities,” that has not been Kuipers’s experience.

“On the day I became ‘official’ my supervising lieutenant said, ‘normally I welcome people to the HPD family,’ but for you I’m saying ‘Welcome home,’” said Kuipers.

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I first met Sue while serving on the Honor Guard for HPD. Every Memorial Day we would place flowers at the grave sites of fallen Officers and Sue would come for the ceremony to honor her father. Sue is a wonderful lady and I was so happy to see her become HPD's first Chaplain. HPD is lucky to have her!

My father in law, Walt Muniz was an Officer at the time that Sue's Dad was attacked and killed. I had heard allot about the attack and often wondered what happend to daughter of the jailer killed. Shortly after I started working for the HPOA I had the privilage of speaking with Sue's Mom and would contact her periodically to see how she was doing. It was during one of these talks that she mentioned her daughter and I told her that it would be nice to someday meet the both of them. To my surprise and Hayward PD's luck, Sue was selected as the HPD's very first chaplin. How fitting to have Sue as part of staff. After all, she was already family. Sue is wonderful, kind and genuine. She is a ray of sunshine for us and we are very blessed that she is "home".
Fondly, Delia Muniz

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