Pastor recognized for his work with police
When Bruce Bentley became a Rosemount Police Chaplain 2 ½ years ago, he wanted to give back to the community. Bentley, a pastor at City on A Hill Church, said he has a certain set of gifts and those lent themselves to taking on the position.
Going into it, Bentley said he wanted to have presence that mattered.
Police chief Eric Werner will tell you that Bentley meets that goal. Werner said Bentley has been an invaluable source to the police department, especially during 2013, which proved to be a particularly challenging year for the department.
For his efforts, Werner nominated Bentley for a Dakota County Chiefs of Police Association Citizen of Excellence Award. Bentley received the honor April 11.
“Bruce has been a blessing to our department. He genuinely cares about our officers,” said Werner.
Bentley cares for the officers and the people of Rosemount. One of the main functions of a chaplain is to provide support to families when police deliver death notices. As a police chaplain, Bentley aims to make his interaction with people meaningful.
“There’s value being there at that moment,” said Bentley.
In 2013, Bentley provided care and resources to police officers and families during two death scenes and three homicides. Bentley said the most challenging of the incidents was a murder-suicide. On Oct. 8, 2013, Melissa Vasey shot and killed her husband, Steve Vasey, and then turned the gun on herself. The incident occurred in the Waterford Commons Apartment Complex. Steve Vasey was a handyman for the company that owns the complex.
Bentley knew the couple personally, which made the incident all the more difficult. To help the Waterford community Bentley led a memorial service that drew more than 80 people. He held a second gathering for residents at an apartment complex in Apple Valley where Vasey also worked.
Werner said in that instance Bentley brought a sense of calm and security to the communities, while educating about prevention and response resources available in Dakota County.
When he first joined the chaplain program, Bentley also updated the department’s resource materials. Bentley said he copied with permission a resource guide that Burnsville uses. He said the guide helps guide families through the next steps after they have received a death notification, such as choosing a funeral home and contacting other family members.
“It’s a nice little tool,” said Bentley.
Sharing in someone’s worst moment is a difficult thing, Bentley said. Generally, Bentley interacts with people during the immediate aftermath of the death notification and then he lets their families and friends take over.
“Most people don’t want anything to do with me afterwards and that’s understandable,” said Bentley.
While it is difficult, Bentley said it’s important that someone does the task and he plans to continue as long as the Rosemount Police Department needs him.
To help him better do the work, Bentley has spent time building relationships with the officers of the department. Bentley said it is important to him that the officers know him and trust in his abilities.
Overall, Werner said Bentley’s efforts have improved the chaplain program and in turn the Rosemount Police Department.
“Pastor Bentley’s presence and service to the Rosemount Police Department and city of Rosemount has made a difference and lasting impression in the lives of citizens, department personnel and the community as a whole,” Werner wrote in his nomination letter.