Harvest Crusade's Laurie becomes CMPD chaplain

Internationally known Christian leader Greg Laurie on Friday became a chaplain in the Costa Mesa Police Department.

The senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside founded the Harvest Crusades, large evangelical events that take place at Angel Stadium and other venues worldwide. He will join a team of various faiths that provides counsel to crime victims and their families.

Laurie's first Harvest Crusade took place at the Pacific Amphitheatre in the summer of 1990, according to Costa Mesa Police Chief Tom Gazsi, who has been friends with the pastor for 20 years.

"His abilities as a senior minister in terms of providing comfort and encouragement during a difficulty or loss has been incredibly helpful to many," Gazsi said.

City officials swore in Laurie at a ceremony outside Gazsi's office at 10 a.m., according to the Rev. Mike Decker, who is also a chaplain at CMPD.

"To have somebody of [Laurie's] caliber who wants to give back to his community that way is very, very big," said Newport-Mesa Unified School District Trustee David Brooks, who is also a chaplain.

About 40 people attended the ceremony for Laurie and Reserve Officer Evan Martin, said City Clerk Brenda Green.

Martin, a 22-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, is "a very, very capable police officer," Gazsi said.

Laurie became the sixth chaplain in Costa Mesa's department, said Decker, lead pastor at Palm Harvest Church in the city.

"As chaplains, like every division in our Police Department, we want to add depth to our personnel, and I think having Greg certainly does that," Decker said.

The program is "looking for guys that can deal with crisis, and he certainly has the pastoral experience to provide that depth," Decker said.

The group is still looking to add a Catholic priest, Decker said.

The chaplains rotate being on call for counseling in times of crisis, and go on ride-alongs with police officers.

The Costa Mesa Police Department chaplain program began under former Chief Dave Snowden in 1995.

Laurie is also a Newport Beach Police Department chaplain, according to NBPD Lt. Jon Lewis.

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