South Suburban Bishop helps youth in community, guides police officers through tragedy

Chicago's Very Own

He is a man who wears many hats. From guiding troubled youth to sitting on a local college board, he is always working to better his community.

But it is his spiritual work comforting the men and women in blue that has been a blessing for many. Bishop Ronnie White, he is one of Chicago’s Very Own.

Delivering a death notification to a family is never easy, even if you are a police chaplain.

“When I made the notification to one mother, she collapsed in my arms,” White said.

Ronnie White is often called upon for his training, expertise and unwavering commitment.

“I don’t know how to say no! But the thing is, I get called, I respond,” White said.

A director of juvenile services for Chicago Heights police, White has also been serving as the department’s police chaplain for the past 20 years. He’s on call 24/7, serving nearly a dozen local agencies.

That means day or night, he’s often called to a tragic scene to console a family or to be on hand for police officers.

Last March, White answered the call when Chicago Heights police officer Gary Hibbs collapsed and died while responding to a domestic call.

“We had a line of duty death, so I responded to the hospital and then I deal with our department, and I’m still dealing with our department,” White said.

Mike Jones is Matteson’s police chief and president of the South Suburban Association Chiefs of Police. Having worked so closely with white, he calls him his ‘spiritual backup.’

“When he speaks, when he talks, when he reaches out, I feel better. It gives me a little bit of peace,” Jones said.

But it’s not just tragic times that beckon White, as the certified mental health coach steadily works behind the scenes often as an alternative for officers who may be concerned about the stigma attached to seeking out mental health assistance.

“It could be ‘I’m having issues at home’, ‘I’ve been drinking’, ‘I’m upset, I’ve got issues with my boss’, it could be whatever, and of course on the side where an officer could be injured or worse,” White said.

White is President of the International Conference of Police Chaplains. When he’s not working with the police, he’s the assistant pastor at New Hope Baptist Church in Chicago Heights. They call him Bishop White there.

To clear his head from all of the tragic and difficult moments he helps others navigate, he hops on his Harley as a member of the police motorcycle club.

“I bless motorcycles, I don’t wear my collar, I’ll go looking like a biker, well I won’t be looking like this,” White said.

However he dresses and wherever he is, White is a man people have come to rely on and trust.

“He has an indelible quality not many people have, he knows what to say at that moment. He has the right words,” Jones said.

White said that one person can make a difference, and that’s what his mission is all about.

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