Pastor Chris Pomerleau at the Lewiston Police Department on Dec. 12. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The toughest part Chris Pomerleau’s role as chaplain at Lewiston Police Department is trying to comfort the parents of a child who has died unexpectedly.

The parents ask him,“Why?”

“Sometimes it’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know,’” Pomerleau said.

“I also answer with, ‘God always has a plan. We never know what that plan is,’” he said.

“It’s hard,” he said. “It’s probably one of the hardest questions to answer because, as a human being, you don’t know.”

Humans are mortal, but the world is infinite, he said.


“There’s a larger picture out there and we may not know it all the time.”

A Lewiston native, Pomerleau’s eyes were opened to much of the world when he served in the U.S. Navy and flew P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft as a flight engineer.

After his discharge, he earned a college degree in biblical studies with a minor in youth ministry.

He was hired as a pastor at South Lewiston Baptist Church and, after completing a chaplain course at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, became chaplain for the Lewiston Police Department.

“I love to serve and I always love to help people,” he said. One of the officers at the police department texted him one day, saying, “Hey, we’re missing a chaplain. Would you like to help out?”

Having served in the military and gone to school with many of the officers at the department, plus “my relationship with Jesus Christ and my religious background,” Pomerleau said, “it was a good fit.” So he said, “Yes.”


Though the job is voluntary, he is on call day and night, weekends and holidays. Still, with his other commitments, he said, “I’m not there as much as I would like to be.”

He will perform wedding ceremonies for the officers and preside over their families’ funerals.

“If they need me, they will call me,” he said.

And they do. Most often to death scenes, where police are busy performing the necessary protocols that fall to them.

Pomerleau’s duty is to provide comfort and assistance to those grieving the sudden loss of a loved one.

It may be an elderly person who died from natural causes or it may be a fatal car crash. It could be a suicide or a homicide.


At all scenes he’s called to, his job is to help with the emotional trauma.

“My job’s a way to help the officers, the detectives, the sergeants, to be able to do their job to the best of their ability and to be able to help the family in that time of crisis,” he said.

While police are investigating, his job is to calm those left behind, assist them spiritually and emotionally.

He will do his best to answer their questions, offer a glass of water or a hug, he said. Sometimes he simply listens.

“It’s tough,” he said. “Life’s not easy.”

His job doesn’t end at the scene, though.


“I still see these people around Lewiston and I’m still able to say a kind word or give them comfort, let them know that there’s a God that loves them,” he said.

He gives his contact information to survivors at the time of the incident so that they can reach out later if they need to, he said. About half of them will do that, seeking some sort of guidance, sometime it’s spiritual guidance. Sometimes it’s just to reconnect.

“I want to be here for them,” he said.

One of the high points in his role at the police department is his involvement in its annual Christmas Blessings program.

Police officers identify some local families who are struggling financially. Through Pomerleau’s church and business sponsors, they’re able to provide presents to those families in time to put them under their Christmas trees.

“It’s a great time to be able to share with them,” he said.

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