Church opens doors for police; substation offers basic comforts to on-duty officers

Published 1:00 am Monday, April 3, 2017

When churchgoers at Breath of Life Church noticed that Port Arthur police officers began gathering in their parking lot between calls, they took notice.

Originally, Nichols’ father-in-law, now deceased, had a passion for helping and supporting law enforcement, and Nichols said that he wanted to honor him by continuing with his passion and giving back to the community.

“We’ve been working in our community now for ten years, and we’ve always had the support of our local law enforcement,” Nichols said. “So, I wanted to show support for them.”

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Pastor Nichols had the idea for making the church available to officers for bathroom breaks and just a comfortable place to do paperwork. He then spoke to his wife and the congregation about the idea for a substation. Then, he set aside an area of the church with an outside entrance and began working on making a comfortable place for officers to utilize between calls.

“We began praying over the Port Arthur police department, and then began building a room just for them,” Nichols said. “In faith, we began putting things in order to make this dream come true. We look at it as another way we can outreach to this community.”

Nichols and his wife Sarah met with Police Chief Melvin, and had an instant rapport. Nichols said that Chief Melvin fully supported their efforts, and was invaluable in making their plans a reality.

“We are so grateful to be in partnership with such heroes in our city,” Nichols said.

He wanted to understand the needs of the officers, so he began asking around at various substations in the area for ideas from officers about their needs and what they really wanted in a substation rest area.

“Officers mainly expressed their desire for basic necessities, like needing a place to do paperwork, to eat, and to use the bathroom,” Nichols said. “Comfort is important so that officers feel free to use the facilities here. Also, our corner is a good central location for dispatching officers to calls in the area, so this is a convenient place for them to hang out between calls.”

Access to clean, private restrooms is just one of the perks of this substation. It has a homey feel with small decorative touches, like curtains, art work and greenery. Additionally, it has all of the creature comforts one would expect, a computer, TV, Wi-Fi, leather couches, tables, and a kitchenette complete with microwave, coffee pot and refrigerator.

“It’s a place where they can have fresh coffee and a hot meal that isn’t just fast food or gas station food,” Nichols said. “And, they have some privacy in a place where they can check their emails, work on reports and take care of any business they need to do online because we have Wi-Fi and a computer for them to use.”

All of the furniture, art, greenery, TV and coffee maker were donated by Community Bank of Texas.

“We just provided the space, and already had the microwave and refrigerator,” Nichols said. “My wife takes care of all the snacks. She makes sure things stay stocked.”

Nichols extended an invitation to all officers of the PAPD.

“We hope to gain a sense of partnership with the city of Port Arthur by motivating and supporting our local police officers,” Nichols said.

The door to the substation has a passcode, so not just anyone can get in and use the area that is designated for the officers.

“We want to make sure that it [the passcode] gets out there to all the officers who patrol this area, so they know they have a secure, comfortable place to come to while they’re out.”

For more information, call Pastor Michael Nichols at (409) 460-0333.