Police officers, family members honored at church dinner

June 18th, 2015 10:26 am

First Posted: 3/30/2015

SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Eric Judge, Waverly Township Police Department, and Donald Sefcik, Dickson City, were among local police, state troopers and their families honored at a free dinner and program on March 27 at Evangelical Free Bible Church, Carbondale Road.

According to Mike Measley, Evangelical Free Bible Church senior pastor, the idea to honor law enforcement grew out of a program held last year when the church thanked more than 50 first responders for their service.

“Last year, we decided let’s really focus on serving those who serve in our community…so we actually decided to work with firefighters. This year, we decided we would focus on policemen and state troopers…then when everything happened with the state police in the Poconos, we thought this is absolutely appropriate to let them know their community supports them. We visited all of the barracks — Gibson and Dunmore — and we went to the local police departments and gave them flyers,” Measley said.

“Our biggest reason is we wanted to reach out into the community and with these men. We want to share with them hope for everything they face. Obviously, as a church, we believe Jesus Christ is the greatest hope and so, we obviously want to share Christ with them.”

This year’s event, named “The Shield,” included a dinner and program with guest speaker, Chaplain Gary W. Holden, founder, president and CEO of “The Police Chaplain Program,” a non-profit organization that trains clergy to be police chaplains. Holden was a chaplain at Ground Zero and has extensive training and experience in working with police officers and helping them work through difficult trauma and experiences they face in the course of their duty.

His theme was, “Managing your life in an out of control world.”

“We all need to know how to manage our lives in a world of crisis and chaos…,” Holden said. “Police, especially, and first responders are going through a lot of stress in their lives…For example, New Jersey is number one in the nation for police suicide. In our case, it’s more of crisis intervention. We do everything from death notifications, ride with the police officers, domestic calls…but we are first and foremost there for the officers and their families.”

Judge began his career as a policeman in 2002. He said police work is 90 percent community service.

“We need to go out there to talk to people. You need to have compassion for people because generally when they are calling the police, it’s during a very difficult time in their lives. Kids are able to readily identify us as police officers, so it’s important for us to have compassion and caring, whether it be in a very difficult time in their life, or it could be at a community function.”

He also noted domestic calls are some of the most dangerous calls to which police respond.

“When people call the police about a domestic dispute, it’s generally one of the hardest times in their lives. As we’re at these calls, emotions and tensions run very high, so it can one of the most dangerous calls that we respond to as police officers, with regard to officer safety.”

Sefcik was working for New York City Emergency Medical Service when he saw the calling for the police department. He took the test and was hired in 1983 for the NYPD.

“I stayed there for my whole career,” Sefcik said. “After 2001 happened, I got really sick.” Sefcik said he remained on the force into 2006.

Sefcik remembers the events of 9/11 vividly, especially in helping identifying the deceased after the attacks on the World Trade Center.

“…They needed people to work in the morgues set up on Liberty and Broadway,” he said. “We spent about four hours opening the containers they had and identifying people. We had to make lists of people that were deceased. It was awful.”

Sefcik said he’ll never forget that fateful day.

“…I couldn’t possibly describe it. It was a horrible injury to everyone involved,” he said. “We’ve healed but we’ll still carry the scars.”