A Cop Who Cares

A Cop Who Cares: The James Whitacre Story

 by Dale Reeves
Story Pastor

 

With so much discussion in our culture today regarding good cops and bad cops, I want you to meet a family whom I am honored to call my friends . . . James and Rachel Whitacre, who have two beautiful daughters, Kaylee and Chloe. On many Sunday mornings you will find James singing his lungs out in praise to Jesus as part of the worship team at Christ’s Church. During the week he dons the uniform of a police officer. But James views his profession as much more than just a job—it is his ministry, it is his calling from God.

As a child, James wrote papers in elementary school about wanting to become a police officer. As he grew older, he felt a strong call from God to get into this dangerous profession. James comments, “I have tried to leave many times but God has shut those doors. At the age of eighteen, I entered the sheriff’s office and worked as a correction officer for over ten years. For a short time I worked in court security and in electronic monitoring at the courthouse. But then I felt God calling me to patrol and that’s where I currently am assigned.”

James has been active in Christ’s Church for the past seven years. Rachel has been a part of this church since her high school years. Rachel says, “I love that our church has always gone above and beyond in making me feel a part of the church family. When we were going through one of the toughest times in our lives, and we weren’t sure if our baby girl Chloe was going to make it, our church family was there every step of the way—from coming to the hospital to pray over us and Chloe, to bringing us meals to our home. I know we would not have been able to get through such a hard time without this church’s support!”

Trusting God
When I asked Rachel what fears she deals with in regard to James’s work as a police officer, she responded, “People ask me this question a lot and while I do have fears in regards to his job, my fears are minimal. I have faith that God’s got him and will protect him. I pray for his safety and for my peace of mind in knowing he is safe. I am glad he is able to do a job he is so passionate about and thankful he is making a difference in not only our community but also in the lives of the people he works with by praying for and with his coworkers frequently.”

She adds, “I gain strength from the words I find in Proverbs 3:5, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding’ (NLT).”

James echoes that same kind of trust in God: “I depend on God in my job every day. I am able to extend compassion and the love of Christ to people who are hurting or people who are just trying to make ends meet. Not everyone deserves to get a traffic ticket and not everyone needs the book thrown at them. Being in a position of authority, I pray that God will lead my steps and help me make the right decisions. I just want to be a vessel that he can use for his glory. I don’t deserve anything that I have except for the blood of Jesus. I am thankful that I have some close friends whom I can call when I come in contact with people who need Jesus and they will pray for them.”

Serving Others
James comments, “My greatest reward in being a police officer is that every day I get to show people the love and compassion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I get to tell people who I have in my car—that there is a hope—and if they just give Jesus a chance, he will change their life. I also have had the opportunity to pray with people who are hurting and talk with them when they think they have nowhere else to turn. I can’t thank God enough for giving me these opportunities to share his love. I’m also grateful that I have been mentored by godly men who are in high positions, men such as Captain Steve Minnich. He is an awesome man of God and I am thankful that he has taken the time to mentor me.”

In her work with the Cincinnati Eye Institute, Rachel also lets God use her to impact others’ lives. She says, “I have been able to talk with many of our patients about our miracle baby, our daughter Chloe, how God healed her, and what life is like living with her disabilities. I love sharing hope with them. There are special moments in which God shows me the reason why he blessed us with a special daughter and in those times he reveals just how great he is. My walk with the Lord has grown so much thanks to the church family God has given me.”

One of the things that helps James keep things in perspective when he is being verbally abused on the job is his desire to be a witness for God and serve others. He reflects, “God has shown me that the hatred spewed from people’s mouths isn’t really about me in particular but against the uniform. Maybe at some point they were mistreated or wronged by an officer. I know the feeling. Before I was born, while riding his bicycle a relative of mine was hit and killed by someone in uniform. Even though I don’t know all the details, I could have turned my hatred towards officers, but God called me into the profession. I always know that I have Jesus Christ riding with me during my tour of duty. I also realize that if I react to the bad in a negative way, those people will not be able to see Christ in me.”

Facing Fears
I asked James about situations in which he has feared for his life. He responded, “There have been a few incidents in which I have feared for my life but one stands out to me. It was Memorial Day weekend in 2017. I was working patrol in Green Township, which is located on the west side of Cincinnati. I was dispatched to investigate a man firing shots into his neighbor’s yard on Jessup Rd. As I drove to the call that Sunday morning something felt off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I remember that the way I knew to go and the way I went that morning were totally different. Had I gone the way I knew, my partner would have been there alone. As I pulled up near the house, I observed a man sitting in a metal yard chair facing the opposite direction. I called over the radio that I was coming up on his “6,” his behind, and to place me out. As I was exiting my vehicle, my partner was exiting his and we both started to approach the house from different directions. The man who was sitting in the chair got up from his seat, picked up a firearm, and proceeded into his house, all the while my partner was attempting to talk to him. As the man entered the doorway of his house, he turned and started firing shots at my partner. We immediately took cover and for almost a half hour gunfire rang out and I could hear rounds striking objects around me.”

“I never fired my weapon that day because I couldn’t get a clear shot and also I didn’t know who else was inside the residence. We were eventually relieved by SWAT officers and after a six-hour standoff, the man exited his back deck and was taken into custody. That day all officers went home to their families and the man went to jail. I praise God that nobody was hurt. I was there when the man came out of the house in custody, and as I looked at him, I felt like he was possessed by demons. It made me think of ‘Legion’ in the Bible.”

Answering the Call
When asked his opinion about the current unrest and protesting we are experiencing in America, James had this to say: “I think that it is time for a change, but until people will let God change their hearts, nothing will change. Most officers that I come in contact with are great people trying to protect the citizens they serve. Police officers need to understand that anything done to them—whether it is someone running away, or someone saying hurtful things—is not aimed at them personally, but against the uniform. I believe that officers need to learn to speak with people and treat each incident the way they would want their individual families treated.”

“I am calling for all officers who name Jesus Christ Lord of their lives to stand up and be courageous, to share the love and compassion that Christ showed each one of us when he died on the cross. We must realize that just because things may look one way on the surface it might not be the way it really is. For example, I have seen a number of people get into trouble by selling drugs. During conversations I came to learn that the reason they were selling drugs is because they had a felony on their record and because no one would give them a chance, they went back to what they knew. We all need to realize that we are all brothers and sisters traced back through our family roots to Adam and Eve.”

James concludes, “Everybody is in need of God’s love and grace. Deep down I want all people to know that we want to help, and that’s why I got into this profession, and that’s why I believe this truly is a calling of God on my life.”

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8, NIV).

You might be interested in