Skip to comments.Patrolling for Jesus: For this officer, to protect and serve is to serve Christ
Posted on 08/07/2003 10:14:32 AM PDT by chance33_98
Patrolling for Jesus: For this officer, to protect and serve is to serve Christ
By Tracy Simmons
A Scripture verse flashes across the computer screen in Albuquerque police Officer Briane Dennison's patrol car.
It might seem an odd place to read the Bible, but cruising through the Southeast Heights, Dennison says, "This is like a mission field for me."
As he rolls through the streets, guys wearing do-rags and girls with black lip liner stop. They wave to the uniformed man they know as Officer Briane. It's pronounced "Brian" - the e at the end of his name is a family addition.
"Wassup?" shirtless 17-year-old Dante says, strolling over to Dennison. Baggy pants sliding below his boxers, cap perched crookedly on his head and hefty diamond earring glimmering, Dante reaches his tattooed arms into the car. He shakes Dennison's hand like an old friend.
"One thing I learned is to be nice, but firm," Dennison said. "With Dante, we had to be firm."
The teenager always had a chip on his shoulder, Dennison said, but recently gave his life to God.
In the back of Dennison's police car, Dante accepted God, who he says is the guiding force in his life now.
A cop with a Bible, Dennison also packs a badge.
It's not easy to get away from that. Watching a car run a stop sign, he sarcastically comments, "Nice."
But commenting isn't all he does: The driver gets a ticket. It's the beginning of Dennison's busy day on the streets.
Soon after, a call comes in - a stolen car, a crash, a foot chase. Dennison races to the action. Once the scene is under control, he jumps back into his unit.
"I have Joshua 1:3 written on the bottom of my shoes," he said. "`So that wherever I go, I spread God's word.'"
On his shoes: "I will give you every place you step your foot, as I promised Moses."
Now 31, Dennison has been a police officer since he was 19.
Following in his father's footsteps, he first joined the Air Force, which gave him a head start.
He was a teen when he decided to become a cop.
"It was a pivotal time in my adolescence," he said. "I had done the runaway thing."
When he came back home, a police officer who lived in his Alamogordo neighborhood talked to him.
"He got me into the Police Explorers program," he said. "I knew from there it was what I was going to do."
Now Dennison is an instructor for the local Police Explorers program that mentors teens.
"It gets the youth of Albuquerque back on track and gives them a goal and a purpose," he said.
He could have been one of those wayward kids.
Born in Panama to a woman of the streets, his birth father was a U.S. military official with a family.
"My mother would take me to the American Red Cross, which was a child care (center) and an orphanage," Dennison said.
She would drop him off in the morning and pick him up at night, he said, until "one day, she never came back."
He lived at the orphanage for 1 years before he was adopted, brought to America and naturalized at 12.
"It's a privilege to be an American and serve with the police department" in Albuquerque, he said.
"I looked at different areas and this was a large enough city to be a police officer and really get in the middle of stuff."
Dennison also works on the department's campaign to recruit officers, saying Albuquerque needs more eyes on the street.
"I see that every day out here," he said.
For Dennison, it's more than a job. He began working with the Weed and Seed program about three years ago in an effort to make neighborhoods safe.
"The police department needs the community and neighborhood associations and faith-based organizations and businesses, along with the government," he said. "I'm always praying over the community. The spirit of God needs to fall on this place, and I believe prayers are being answered."
Under Weed and Seed, Dennison said, the police will weed out crime, and other organizations will plant new seeds.
"To plant seeds, you have to pull weeds first, and now there's a garden," he said. "We're seeing the fruits of our labor."
But in order for Dennison to work one-on-one with the people of the streets and to witness about Christ, he knew he would have to do it outside the police department. So he started the nonprofit organization World Jubilee.
"The Jubilee is geared toward worship in the presence of God," Dennison said. "It's an open door for God to come into the city and promote unity and evangelism to those who don't believe."
The third-year event will be held Aug. 14-15 at Civic Plaza.
Dennison knows a thing or two about turning a life toward religion. Raised without it, he became a Christian after three momentous events.
"First, less than a year on the department, I was in a car accident," he said. "The accident was so bad that the caller said I was dead. I even thought I was dead."
The second was an armed robbery at the Village Inn on Wyoming and Menaul boulevards Northeast. The offender ran at him and his partner with a kitchen blade, he said. Another officer shot and killed the man.
"It really opened my eyes to the reality of the job," he said.
Then, his mother died. Suddenly, the woman who raised him was gone.
"I felt death was surrounding me," Dennison said. "I began to soul search."
Other officers helped bring him to Christ - by their walk, not their talk. They lived their religion, he said, and didn't pressure him.
"For a year, I ran from God, but I thought, `How can I help on the streets if I'm lost myself?'"
Soon, he earned a ministerial license through his church. It's been a blessing, he said. And, he's passed the blessing on.
Rudy Espinoza has been Dennison's friend for three years.
"He's fair, honest and a man of integrity," he said. "He has a servant's spirit."
Espinoza helps with the planning of the Jubilee and said Dennison uses him as a sounding board.
"I think the world of Briane, he's someone people gravitate to," he said. "Even those who claim to have no faith turn to him in perilous times."