Serving Those Who Serve: Finding Meaningful Work as a Police Chaplain

About this episode:

“My career has been one of twists and turns, but ultimately things connected to each other. And what I do now—to help people in need—is something that helps me feel whole.”

Michael Shochet, Senior Cantor of Temple Rodef Shalom, Falls Church, Virginia; Chief Chaplain of Fairfax County, Virginia Police

Few can tell a personal career story as dramatic and ever-changing as Mike Shochet. He became one of the youngest TV reporters in Baltimore. But bothered by covering “if it bleeds, it leads” stories, he pivoted into law enforcement as a Baltimore City police officer where he hoped that he could help people more effectively.

Then Tom, his partner on patrol, got shot. Shochet used his own shirt to stanch the bleeding from Tom’s gunshot wound. Immediately, Shochet suffered PTSD, but his superiors told him to take a day off and get back on the job.

He couldn’t.

Shochet turned in his badge and eventually found his calling as a cantor in a large D.C. area synagogue and as lead chaplain for Virginia’s largest municipal police department.

After so many career “twists and turns” Mike Shochet had found the work of his dreams—meaningful work.

Now, he is serving those who serve as lead chaplain for the Fairfax County Virginia Police.

In this episode, Shochet:

  • Explains what a police chaplain does [starts at 2:00]
  • Describes the motivations that allow police officers to do such stressful work [starts at 7:30]
  • Discusses the role of empathy in policing [starts at 19:30]

serving those who serveAbout our guest: Michael Shochet received a Bachelor of Science from Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications and a Masters in Sacred Music from Hebrew Union College. He is the Senior Cantor for Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia and Chief Chaplain of the Fairfax County, Virginia Police Department. Shochet and his family live in Fairfax County, Virginia.

EPISODE DATE: December 7, 2018

Social media:

Temple Rodef Shalom – Profile

Photo credits: Police Officer in Vest, Getty Images; Chaplain Michael Shochet in Ride Along, Michael Ventura