Chaplain of the Year

This award recognizes a chaplain who has made outstanding contributions to law enforcement and his/her agency or who had demonstrated conspicuous excellence in the performance of his/her duties.

2020 Chaplain of the Year

Chaplain Lowell Hochhalter
Missoula County Sheriff's Office, Montana

Chaplain Lowell Hochhalter has been with the Missoula County Sheriffs Office since 2015 and is a vital component to our operation. Our law enforcement community has endured its share of critical and traumatic incidents over the past 4 years and we've kept Lowell quite busy. He is the calming voice of reason and counsel when things haven't gone well and, simply put, doesn't miss an opportunity to help our deputies get through the tough times.
If that isn't enough, Lowell really goes above and beyond with the families and friends of those so adversely affected by the various tragic incidents, something he really isn't required to do. Citing just one example, just this past March, we had a road rage incident that resulted in three people from one vehicle being shot; each multiple times. Several hours later, while still searching for the suspect, one of our law enforcement officers was ambushed by the suspect and was shot above the neck three times. Lowell certainly was attentive to the law enforcement officer and his family, but he was also there for the families of the civilian victims.
I really can't say enough about Lowell and his value to this office and the community. That alone would earn him this nomination but there is so much more. Several years ago, Lowell became involved with a pastor that had gone to India to work with victims of human trafficking. When this colleague returned, he and Lowell believed they needed to get into the schools to start early education. They did this through various and numerous school assemblies from 2009 through 2016 and did them all over the country.
Lowell felt that there were many successes but believed he needed to do more. School assembly presentations were creating awareness but not much prevention or assistance for those already in the grips of the terrible crimes associated with human trafficking. There were many instances where young girls were simply being thrown into jail for prostitution when there was so much more to the issue. Lowell and his colleagues went on to start education programs with law enforcement and did presentations as far away as Louisiana and Mississippi. This was a major step in turning the ship and attention to the real criminals, those who were forcing these girls into these situations.
Lowell didn't stop there. In June of 2016, he founded the Lifeguard Group where the mission is to respond, rescue, restore, and revive those who have been taken/kept captive and victimized and they do it all free of charge. Lowell recognized that law enforcement simply doesn't have the time or personnel to conduct thorough missing kid searches, especially in cases where it appears to be a simple run-away case. Lowell's team can and will do this work in conjunction and cooperation with law enforcement and can immediately be attentive to the families of missing kids. Many times, when kids are located, they aren't anywhere near where they were reported missing. The Lifeguard Group will respond and again work with law enforcement and do the tedious tasks law enforcement often doesn't have the time or personnel to do. Once located the Lifeguard Group establishes victim outreach and restoration through safe houses and makes referrals to established and vetted programs. They can also initiate a trained "rapid response" team that can help victims search for their own justice and help them transition into their "new normal". The Lifeguard Group's work isn't always reactive. I know his team attends some of the world's largest events (Super Bowl, World Series, etc) with the purpose of just looking for and rescuing victims.
Lowell and Lifeguard Group really don't like to talk numbers. They recognize victims have already gone through so much and they don't want to risk exploiting them any further by talking about the successes but there have been many since the inception and several just in the past few months. Lowell's commitment to his community is nothing short of amazing but, through the founding of the Lifeguard Group, he has extended his services nationally and arguably globally. Lowell's passion for helping his fellow man is evident in all of this and is certainly worthy of this nomination for the NSA' s Chaplain of the Year.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.

William K. Burt, Captain
Missoula County Sheriff's Office

Previous Winners

1998 Norman E. Mitchell - Cumberland County, NC

1999 Chaplain Mary Perry - Troy, OH

2000 Chaplain Ed Stelle - Multnomah County, OR

2001 Sheriff Timothy A. Hawsey - Escambia County, AL

2002 Chaplain Harold Ellis - Bell County, TX

2003 Chaplain Michael Taylor - Rowan County, NC

2004 Father Dennis J. Hayes - Onondaga County, NY

2005 Chaplain L. Gale Lyon - Knox County, TN

2006 Chaplain Ron McMurray - Whitman County, WA

2007 Bishop Doctor Michael J. Love - McHenry County, IL

2008 Chaplain Robert "Bob" Whithford - Lake County, FL

2009 Dr. Glenn Davis - Forsyth County, NC

2010 Chaplain Gerald Bills - Whitley County, IN

2011 Pastor Phillip A. Green - Genesee County, NY

2012 Reverend Tim Eldred - Rutherford County, TN

2013 Pastor Chuck Kish - Cumberland County, PA

2014 Sergeant Brian Boyer - Berks County, PA

2015 Chaplain Gregory Clayton - Orange County, FL

2016 Lieutenant, Chaplain James Stephens - Pinal County, Arizona

2018 Corporal Steve Smith - Montgomery County, Alabama

2019 Chaplain Jay Birky - Porter County, IN