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He's keeping the peace for police

'It's All God's Plan'

Chaplain no longer faces life-and-death situations, but the Costa Mesa native is there for the officers who still deal with them.

June 06, 2010|By Joseph Serna
(Don Leach )

A few years ago, Brad Green and other Newport Beach police officers were responding to a report of gunshots on the Balboa Peninsula in the middle of the night.

Officers found a scattering of bullet casings in the area and began looking for the suspect.

Green headed down an alley with no lights and plenty of hiding spots.

"If this guy jumped out of nowhere, he would've had me. One shot and I'm done," Green, 54, recalled. "I looked up at the sky and there was no moon, so the stars were really showing. I thought 'At least I got to see that one last time.'"

There are few jobs where several times a day, a person pauses to think it could be their last moments alive, he explained.

When police officers put on the uniform and badge, it's like turning up a switch on vigilance, healthy skepticism and turning down the switch for emotions in violent, sobering situations.

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"Sometimes that switch gets stuck down even when they're off work," Green said.

That's where Green, an ordained minister and one of the department's chaplains born and reared in Costa Mesa, comes in.

It's low-stress, but tragic situations you wouldn't expect can hit an officer like a punch to the stomach, he said. It might not be chasing a bank robber or a shoot-out, but seeing a child fatality or a suicide where the victim looks like someone the officer knows personally can stick in the mind, he said.

"It's like body blows in boxing. They come and they come until one thing makes it tough," he said.

For those moments, officers will sometimes turn to Green or one of the department's other eight chaplains for peace. Green doesn't even need to say anything to the officer, he said. He calls it a "ministry of presence," and it works with officers as well as it does with the public.

"Sometimes the point is not saying anything. There's not anything you can say to make it all OK. Sometimes you need to shut up and just be there," he said.

He has a certification in critical-incident stress management from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and conducts stress training and stress debriefings for officers and their families.

Green found the church when he was 7 years old.

"That was the greatest day of my life," he said. "I'm a chaplain. I'm a Christian. God is in control."

His family has as much a foundation in Christianity as it does in public service. His father was one of Costa Mesa's first police officers, with the badge No. 007. His grandfather was a fireman.

After graduating from Estancia High School, Green went to USC on a football scholarship. He was on the team that won the 1978 national championship and was one of the captains of the 1980 team, which beat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. He played center and was the offensive line's smallest man. He blew his knee out and never played the same again, he said.

After working a series of other jobs, including with Ford Aerospace, Green joined the Newport Beach Police Department 20 years ago. He's married and has three daughters.

So how does an admittedly non-confrontational man slow to use physical force and who readily believes people handle being an officer?

"It's all God's plan," Green said.

Officers smile when they think about Green, the minister, being an undercover vice officer posing as a John to nab prostitutes.

"The Bible says not to lie. But cops use ruses in the search of the truth and protection," he said, smiling. "At the end of the day, I have peace with myself and God."

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