Strong faith helps police sergeant better serve community
POLICE Sergeant Hans Van Kempen believes his strong Christian faith has helped him become a better officer.
The officer in charge at Kilkivan Police Station admitted when he started working as a policeman, he saw a side of society and community he "hadn't been exposed to".
"It was definitely an eye-opener for a lad who grew up in a Christian family and going to the church," Sgt Van Kempen said.
Some of the issues he had not experienced before included domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse and mental health problems.
The police officer of 14 years said while he was a Christian, he was also respectful of his position within the police force.
"Being a Christian is who I am, but I am also very respectful for the organisation I work for and the capacity I speak in," he said.
By being in charge of a country station, Sgt Van Kempen has come to understand the unique challenges regional people face.
"Country service has led me to see a lot of the ups and downs that landowners, farmers and cattle owners face within their every day lives," he said.
"The weather ups and downs, rain and no rain, drought and floods and prices of economic pressures.
"And they still have to deal with the everyday pressures."
He believes country policing has also provided him with a much closer relationship with people within the community.
"A business owner might suddenly die and because they have assisted you within their business, you feel it more for them," he said.
"You have to do the investigation afterwards and you feel their loss because you know the person was within the community.
"It gives you a greater sense of empathy or compassion in those moments because in those tough times I can stand there with them as someone they know."
The Kilkivan police officer believes his faith has helped him see past the crime and see the person involved.
"People make bad decisions and they do the wrong thing, and I have to be an enforcer of the law," Sgt Van Kempen said.
"However that can be done with love by showing people respect, and acknowledge that they are a person."
One of his more rewarding experiences was working with a couple during arguably the darkest moment of their lives.
"I journeyed with a couple after the passing of their child," he said.
Sgt Van Kempen said the couple appreciated that he was able to sit with them and have a more human experience before moving into the official part of his job.
"Just giving them that time was something they appreciated," he said.
"I have received thanks from them in regards to how I interacted with them on the day.
"They felt compassion and kindness and not a clinical approach."
He recalls another situation that enabled him to help a woman doing it tough.
"A single mum was struggling with domestic stuff from a former partner," Sgt Van Kempen said.
"We were able to give her an old washing machine we didn't need any more.
"Showing compassion encouraged her to make a break and saw her become a better mum and change old ways."
Thanks to the support from Sgt van Kempen and his family, the woman was able to secure suitable employment.
"I think it was more because I didn't see her as a burden because of her life choices, but I could just show her some love," he said.
"It gave her more value, so she could apply herself and move forward in life."
The devoted family man and father of two believes God loves us all just the way we are.
"It doesn't matter what we've done. It doesn't matter who we are," Mr Van Kempen said.
"He has created us with our unique personality and gifted us all with certain gifts and talents."
"We can use those talents to the best of our abilities to bring him glory and honour.
"It doesn't matter what we do or what career we are in to bring across the love and passion."
Sgt Hans Van Kempen will be sharing his experiences as a Christian serving in the police force in Murgon on Friday, June 14.
The event will be held at the St Paul's Lutheran Church Hall from 6pm.