• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Police chaplain helps others face crises

October 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
When tragedy strikes law enforcement, chaplains are some of the first responders on scene. They see some of the worst situations. Those chaplains give families just what they need when they need it.

On Nov. 7, 2010, Riverside Police Officer Ryan Bonaminio was on routine patrol when, after a short foot pursuit, he was gunned down, killed in the line of duty.

"Well actually my wife and I were just getting ready to go to bed when I got the phone call, and when I heard from dispatch that they had an officer down, it just sucked the breath out of me," said Steve Ballinger, Living Shield Ministries.

When Ballinger was called to duty that night, it wasn't to help investigate the crime, but to comfort those in need, because he's not a detective, he's a chaplain.

"There's times when I'm on an incident, inside I feel like my knees are buckling and just hitting together. I'm literally scared on the inside," said Ballinger.

It's hard to imagine what chaplains deal with on a daily basis always having to be there when others are at their worst.

Ballinger was there with Ryan Bonaminio's father that night at the hospital when the family walked in to view the officer's body.

"He was there with us for that, and I think he was the one that held me up, because as soon as they opened the door, I think my legs came out from underneath me, and he was there," said Joe Bonaminio, Ryan's father.

Ballinger has shown support for the Bonaminio family every step of the way. Even through the legal process, he's shown up to practically every court hearing.

"Nobody asked him to come to court, to be in the courtroom with us, and yet he's there," said Joe Bonaminio

The role of chaplain is something Ballinger feels strongly about. Locally, he runs a program called Living Shield Ministries.

"Wherever there's a crisis, that's where I need to be, because I just want to come alongside whoever is in crisis and do whatever I can," said Ballinger.

Load Comments