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Meet Jim Brackeen, Richmond Hill’s ‘epitome of hope’
Jim Brackeen
Jim Brackeen

A police chaplain’s role is to listen, offer spiritual and emotional support to police officers who, even in a community like ours where they are widely greeted with open arms, still carry extraordinary stress on the job.

Because of this, the services of a police chaplain are special, and that’s what I think about our Richmond Hill police chaplain, Jim Brackeen.

When I’m in his presence I feel a calmness, a peace.

I don’t know why but it’s something he brings to me even in simple conversation or exchanging pleasantries. I can easily envision him supporting officers involved in a number of issues; trauma, stress, burnout, crime victim support or even the horror of death notifications.

Jim accompanies officers on the beat and I’m sure is a calming presence to them whether on a domestic dispute, traffic stops or worse.

Mayor of Richmond Hill, Russ Carpenter, calls Jim Brackeen a “prayer warrior,” always there for the police, and for city leadership, offering prayer and support.

The Mayor says Jim will often send a simple text to him saying, “I am praying for you.”

The mayor put it like this: “This is a true man of God and good for Richmond Hill. He is the epitome of hope.”

Jim’s wife, Phyllis, is according to many, his mirror image. She too is an “angel person.”

Our police chef, Mitch Shores, refers to them in the following way when talking to me: “They might be angels and we don’t know it.”

Tim believes deeply in prayer, in Jesus and in the power of relationship with those whom he helps. Some might ask why I mention Jesus in this article?

It’s because Jim speaks graciously, speaks truth and has lived his whole life for Jesus. Talking with him for even a short time, one can see it and feel it in all he does, because with Jesus he sees hope.

All counseling, assisting in any kind of situation is privileged and confidential, whether visiting with sick or injured members of the department, serving as a liaison with local ministers or offering prayers on special occasions, such as providing practical assistance to victims, assisting in suicide incidents in the community, being there for all at times of need or performance of law enforcement duties in the community.

But his own story is a clear one. On Sept. 12, 2016 his son Timothy, a K-9 officer in Shelby, N.C., was killed in the line of duty.

The reality is we grieve forever, learn to cope and see life after loss.

Memories never leave but build our strength and change and deepen the ability to serve others.

All told, these experiences help Jim to soften the story of life for others. Jim speaks to the fact his son Tim and all those taken from us live on in the hearts of the many left behind. He teaches that one is not gone while their name is still spoken.

In the Army in security in Southeast Asia and Korea, Jim worked with missionaries in his free time. After 20 years he retired and returned to Savannah, worked in security at Hunter and then decided to go to Russia with a mission team.

In Siberia he set up missionary aid before returning to our area and working as a maintenance supervisor in a handicap facility. Asked by Chief Shores to join Chaplin Steven Lane as part of the police department team, Jim’s journey for others is complete. A road well traveled displaying heroism in many forms.

He brings the power of relationship into focus because of his relationship with Jesus, with his wife, son, officers and those whom he helps in a myriad of ways.

He is a man who speaks graciously, and speaks truth. He is a special addition to the wonderful place we call home.

Thank you, Jim, for being there, taking care of, ministering when needed to our well appreciated and beloved police in Richmond Hill as well as attending to the needs of victims. What you do is important.

Georgene Brazer is chairwoman of the Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority and a Ford resident. She can be reached at

Jim Brackeen 2
The Rev. Allan McDonald, Richmond Hill Police Department Assistant Chaplain Jim Brackeen and Mayor Russ Carpenter at the Thursday, March 19, 2020 unified prayer vigil at Richmond Hill City Hall. Photo provided.
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