From Blackjack to the Bible


by Chaplain Kim Ciftci Alexandria (VA) Police Department

I graduated from the Memphis Police Academy in Memphis, Tennessee, in August of 1974. I was 21 years old, and a student at the University of Memphis. Working the Graveyard Shift allowed me to attend classes during the daytime, and eventually I earned two degrees, a BS, in Education, and an MS, in Exercise Science. All that education was great, but it didn’t come close to the education I received, patrolling the streets and back alleys of Memphis. That was a degree of a different sort. The world I lived in at night was a totally different world from the one I lived in during the daytime. Gradually, and without any conscious awareness, I evolved into two different people to accommodate the two worlds. Eventually, those worlds collided, and I had to make a choice as to who would continue on, the regular guy, or the cop. The regular guy won out, but the cop never ceased to exist. He still exists today, but in a much different form. Looking back, I have to say that it seems to me, that I’ve come full circle. Being a Police Officer was a part of my training, my preparation if you will, for a higher calling.

Crisis-Chaplains-Ciftci1-284x401.jpgIn May of 2012, 38 years after my graduation from the Police Academy, I was sworn in as a Chaplain with the Alexandria Police department. A lot happened in that span of time, not the least of which was becoming a Pastor. After many years as a volunteer leader in a host of ministries, I was hired in 2004 as a full time Associate Pastor of Single Adults at McLean Bible Church, in Northern Virginia. I was officially ordained through Vanguard Ministries in the summer of 2011, although I am no longer on staff at MBC. I do have another ministry however, besides the Chaplaincy. I am an itinerant vineyard preacher, the Pastor to the Vineyards, in the beautiful wine country of the Virginia Piedmont area. On Sunday mornings throughout the grape growing season, April – October, I preach a Gospel message at one of several wineries I schedule on a rotating basis. The sermons all focus on Biblical scripture that refers to wine, the grapes, the vineyards, or the processes involved with winemaking. Not surprisingly, the ministry is called, “Sermons from the Vine”. So for me, ministry, like police work, is in my blood, and always has been.

On occasion, people have asked me, “How do you go from Policeman to Pastor?” The answer to that is rather simple, because both professions are waging the same war, and fighting the same battles, only on a different plane. The Pastor wages his or her battles in the supernatural or spiritual plane, against sin, the devil, and all his works. Police Officers wage their battles in the natural or physical plane, against crime, the manifestations of sin and the work of the devil. One thing I learned while on the job in Memphis is that crime will automatically rise, by default, to whatever the societal level of tolerance is. Sin and all its manifestations work in much the same way. The first line of defense against each of these is Law Enforcement, and the Clergy. Both represent the Thin Blue Line.

When speaking about the Law Enforcement community, they represent a rather “outside the box” type of congregation to the clergy. They’re not entirely like the regular congregations sitting in church pews on Sunday mornings. They’re different in a way that only those who’ve been there themselves can fully understand. Remember the two worlds I spoke about previously? Well, that analogy applies here as well. Law Enforcement professionals are skeptical of outsiders, of strangers, and of anyone not of their world, regardless of how good their intentions may be. Yet, they deal with the worst element that society has to offer on a daily basis. Often, their world involves violence on a level that the rest of the world only sees in the movies, and too often, they pay for being on the front line with their lives. When was the last time, you ever heard of any Law Enforcement person, being cited for cowardice? Have you ever? These people make careers of this, so who more so than they, have a need for spiritual encouragement and counsel? This is the role of the Police Chaplains, officers themselves once, to come alongside the rank and file in their time of spiritual need, from a position of understanding of what their world is about, and how it can harmonize with God’s Word.

My career in ministry started when I was 9 years old, as an Alter Boy at St. Steven’s Catholic Church, in Washington, DC. My career in Law Enforcement started at about the same time, as Captain of the Safety Patrols at Holy Trinity Grade School, in Georgetown. Most of my life has vacillated between, and paralleled the vocations of Law Enforcement and Clergy. Now, I feel as though I have come around full circle, ministering to an elite and secretive fraternity that I was once a part of. Where I once carried a blackjack, I now carry a Bible, the tools of the respective trades. Whichever of those we might refer to, there’s nothing like having one handy when you really need it!

God bless, Chaplain Kim J. Ciftci

About the Author: Chaplain Kim Ciftci, (pronounced, chif – chee) hails originally from Washington DC, but has been a long time resident of Alexandria, Virginia. He spent 10 years in Law Enforcement, beginning as a Patrolman on the Memphis Police Department, then as the PT Instructor at the Memphis Police Academy, and as a Special Deputy with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. He also spent a summer as a Cruelty Investigator for the Memphis Humane Society. After graduate school, and a brief sojourn of three years in Dallas, Texas, Chaplain Ciftci moved back into the DC area, where he managed several private Health Clubs, and also began his ministry pursuits.

Chaplain and Pastor Kim Ciftci has a passionate heart for ministry, and the Law Enforcement Community. He is familiar with the unique challenges the profession poses, and is available to all Alexandria Police Personnel who may need some spiritual counsel, or just someone to listen. If anyone has the inclination, Chaplain Ciftci can be reached directly on his cell at 202-439-0593, or e-mail at pastorkim@sermonsfromthevine.com. For those who have visited Pro-Line Embroidery in the past for their various apparel needs, you may recognize Chaplain Ciftci as one of the Sales personnel previously employed there.

GBBpolice subscribe

Click here for the Grieving Behind the Badge newsletter