By Randy Arrington
STANLEY — About a decade ago, the Stanley Police Department created a chaplain position. The only person who has ever filled that position is local evangelist Doug Gochenour. And last Wednesday, Chief Ryan “Beaver” Dean finally solidified the arrangement.
“Chief Foster, 10 years ago, asked him to be chaplain…and now we’re finally making it official…here is your official Chaplain badge,” Chief Dean said as he presented the badge to Gochenour during the Stanley Council’s July 28 meeting.
“You just don’t know what this means to me,” Gochenour said as he became emotional addressing the council. “I’m at a loss…to say I love you is just not enough.”
Chief Dean told the council of Gochenour’s spiritual guidance and comfort for himself and his officers following the Feb. 26 shooting of Officer Dominic “Nick” Winum.
“Through this whole ordeal, we have depended on him. He went with us to New York [for the burial], and he has helped the department and the family through it,” Chief Dean said. “The end of February is not something we want to remember, but it’s something we can’t forget.”
“This is just a small bit of gratitude for Doug,” Chief Dean said to a round of applause from the council.
“You all are in my heart,” Gochenour told them. “When your heart is plugged in, you don’t want to be anywhere else.”
The close nature of the relationship that Gochenour shares with both council members and the chief, was seen in how they jokingly reminded him that the badge was an honorary designation.
“You don’t get a gun,” Chief Dean said with a grin. “And don’t go trying to pull anyone over with that badge.”
Later in the meeting, the police chief turned his attention to Officer Winum’s widow, Kara. He presented her with several recognitions given by various police organizations and notified the council of other memorials taking place and some planned for the future.
One item presented was a posthumous Award for Valor from the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. There were also recognitions mentioned from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Police Hall of Fame, including the addition of the name Dominic “Nick” Winum to a memorial wall in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 2022.
Chief Dean said that paperwork is in progress to add Winum’s name to another memorial wall in Richmond as well.
In presenting the awards and recognition, Chief Dean spoke of the closeness that has grown between Kara and the officers of the Stanley Police Department, including a “brother and sister” relationship with Officer Aaron Cubbage.
“We lost a brother,” Chief Dean said, “but we gained her as a sister.”
Council members shared stories of “Nick”, sometimes getting emotional as they spoke. They recalled how he touched their lives, or helped members of their family — sometimes with just the simple gesture of a prayer for a sick grandchild that he didn’t even know.
“I just want to thank all of you for your support of us and your support of law enforcement,” Kara told the council. “I appreciate you guys a lot.”
Chief Dean summed up the moment by ending his comments with…”although it’s been five months, it doesn’t get any easier.”