‘People are upset, despondent:’ Chaplains offer support for police mourning officer’s death

Officer Michael Michalski

MILWAUKEE -- Officer Michael Michalski's loved ones and colleagues are mourning his death in the line of duty. The veteran MPD officer was fatally shot Wednesday, July 25, while taking part in a check on a wanted suspect near 28th and Wright. A difficult journey lies ahead as those who knew him try to make sense of the loss.

"As you can imagine, it's extremely somber. People are upset, despondent," said George Papachristou, Milwaukee Police Department chaplain.

George Papachristou

Papachristou provides spiritual support to the men and women in blue.

"Especially in a law enforcement profession, where there is such a brotherhood and there is a togetherness where you have a separate family beyond your blood family -- you have your blue family," said Papachristou.

As flowers piled up on a squad car draped in black outside MPD's Police Administration Building near 9th and State on Thursday, Papachristou was making  the rounds.

"We have been going throughout the districts, touching all the officers, checking in with command officers, making sure people know what resources are available to them," said Papachristou.

Meanwhile, Salvation Army chaplains, like Brenda Hines, are offering their support.

"We'll be there as long as they allow us to be there," said Hines.

They were there Wednesday evening -- after a procession followed Officer Michalski's body from the hospital to the medical examiner's office.

"That's a pain that is very indescribable," said Hines.

It's a feeling Hines knows all too well. Her son was shot and killed in November of last year. She said now more than ever, the community needs to unite.

"And it's going to take a lot of that for the police officers and for the community and all the community leaders, the faith base to come together so that we could get through this as a group, as a unit, as a city," said Hines.

Brenda Hines

Along with its chaplaincy program, the Milwaukee Police Department also provides its officers with mental health care and peer support.