Police Chaplain Program
Message from Chief Shane Palsgrove
In 2006, the Morgan Hill Police Chaplaincy program was reinstituted after a decade by Commander Joe Sampson, under the direction of Chief Bruce Cumming. The program began with Chaplains Deborah Thimsen-Villa and Larry McElvain from Morgan Hill Bible Church with the goal of providing spiritual guidance, counseling, and comfort to the members of the Morgan Hill Police Department and their families. The objective and goal have grown over the years to include a partnership with leaders of faith-based organizations. Our Chaplaincy Program aligns with our mission to use community policing every day to prevent crime, build trust, and strengthen relationships. Each member of our department, including our Chaplains, wants you to know we are here to listen to you and protect you.
The faith community is uniquely positioned to build bridges and break down barriers to advocate for fairness, justice, and equity across our community. The Morgan Hill Police Department in conjunction with our faith-based leaders work as one team to meet the needs of the individuals we serve.
Police Chaplain Program
The Morgan Hill Police Department’s Chaplains are the “emotional and spiritual E.M.T” for every member of the police department family and the community we serve. As “paramedics” to “first responders”, they are on call 24/7 and committed to the support and well-being of the department’s sworn officers, professional staff, and their families. They also serve the community in times of crisis, tragedy, and times of joy. Our Chaplain’s services and assistance are available to anyone are completely confidential.
Since coming onboard our Chaplains have actively engaged with the department and greatly assisted in serving Morgan Hill. Activities include presenting at our Community Police Academy, teaching and instructing all recruits during their field training program, participating in National Night Out, incident debriefs, swearing-in ceremonies and Shop with a Cop Event.
Meet our Morgan Hill Police Department Chaplains
We are honored to have Chaplain Michael Burchfield, Chaplain Tere Johnson and Chaplain David Willis bring their ministry experience, enthusiasm, and dedication to helping others to our Chaplaincy Program. To further their commitment to serving our department and community, at their own expense, they recently attended the International Conference of Police Chaplains (ICPC) annual training seminar. As attendees, they completed 12 Police Chaplaincy training courses and certification training in Individual and group crisis intervention. ICPC is the premier Chaplaincy training and credentialing organization for Chaplains worldwide.
Michael Burchfield came to the Morgan Hill/Gilroy area in 1987 and has served as lead pastor of West Hills Community Church since that time. He is a P.O.S.T. (California’s Peace Officer Standards and Training) Certified Law Enforcement Chaplain, a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains, and has certificates in Critical Incident Stress Management and Peer Support for Law Enforcement. In addition, he has over 30 years of experience providing life coaching for people from all walks of life. After serving in the United States Marine Corp, Michael studied electronic engineering at State Technical Institute in Memphis, Tennessee before pursuing theological studies. He and his wife Raquel have two adult sons, and a growing number of grandchildren. He has served as a chaplain for Morgan Hill Police Department since 2008.
Tere Johnson is a retired pastor and hospice chaplain and has served the Morgan Hill Police Department as a Police Chaplain since 2010. He is also a member of the department’s Peer Support Team. Tere graduated with a degree in Theology and Management Ethics from San Jose Christian College. Tere is a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains and has attained multiple certificates in law enforcement chaplaincy. He is also a certified grief recovery specialist.
Tere was born and raised in Santa Clara County and has been a resident of Morgan Hill for 30 years, where he and his wife raised their two daughters. He looks forward to continued service to the City of Morgan Hill Police Department and community.
David Willis is a P.O.S.T. (California’s Peace Officer Standards and Training) Certified Law Enforcement Chaplain, a member of International Conference of Police Chaplain, an ordained minister and holds a doctoral degree in leadership development. Since 2012, David has served as co-pastor of Crossroads Christian Center in Morgan Hill. Prior to that he worked in higher education and the non-profit sector for over 30 years. He has previously served as a university, hospice, police, and fire chaplain.
David and his wife Lynn have three grown children, five grandchildren and lead a non-profit organization empowering women, supporting education, and rescuing children from human trafficking. He is a foodie who enjoys international travel, experiencing different cultures, and reading. David joined the Chaplaincy Program in 2020.