Blue Line

Loiters with purpose

May 19, 2016  By Imran Ally

553 words – MR

Loiters with purpose

by Imran Ally

The differences amongst us are for a greater purpose. We could have all been one, with no disagreements and no variations, homogeneous like a field of grass, all blending together so that the eye could not tell two persons apart.


We could have the same language, face, eyes and hair; the same customs and traditions, cuisines, art and architecture – but that doesn’t sound like an interesting or exciting world, does it? 

Work environments, including policing, are becoming more diverse with every new hire. Faith is one aspect of this diversity and it’s natural for colleagues and co-workers to become curious about different faiths.

Encouraging greater awareness and understanding of the different practices of faith groups can be rewarding, particularly for team building. It also helps to reduce misunderstandings, which may result in complaints or disciplinary action.

Police chaplains recognize that much of police work, by its very nature, is stressful. They understand that everyone is a complete person (body, mind and spirit) and care for them in this holistic way. Police work is increasingly challenging and regardless of faith, a chaplain is always able to provide a listening ear in a confidential and professional manner whenever members experience emotional bumps and bruises, either on or off the job. However, when administering practices of a faith, there is no “Super Chaplain” who can do it all; hence, an active multi-faith chaplaincy is necessary to cater to all spiritual and religious care.

Multi-faith chaplaincy in policing is a practical approach to accommodate and understand religious diversity. While the concept may be relatively new, it is becoming an integral part of all policing and law enforcement services. It does not consist only of police chaplains from different faiths but also provides a strong liaison with community clergy leaders, ensuring that the designated faith leader correctly addresses practices of all faith groups.

Spirituality in policing is often overlooked but it is the officers’ spirits that make them human. It can be defined as a compelling inner sense of purpose and meaning toward selfless service to others, along with a deep connection to individuals and the community being served. Multi-faith chaplaincy provides an understanding and practice of spirituality and emotional wellness in policing, vital to ensuring that the community is consistently provided with the highest quality of service.

Many police services still do not have a multi-faith approach to chaplaincy. Others are only beginning to establish and implement this unique “Unit.” The model will be effective and productive when it’s valued as a great internal asset to provide correct understanding and support to the police service, especially when there is an outreach effort involving specific faiths within the community. In addition, it will provide numerous other valuable services and hopefully not just be relegated to a ceremonial role.

Multifaith chaplains are not officers but their training and experience make them an excellent resource for policing. They never interfere in police procedures and their role can be best described as “loitering with purpose.”

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Imran Ally is a chaplain (Muslim) with Peel Regional Police and a member of the Canadian Police Chaplain Association (CPCA). He is the Imam and Scholar in residence at the TARIC Islamic Centre in Toronto, Visit for more information about the Canadian Police Chaplains Association.

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