The Mount Laurel Police Department has added a rabbi from Cinnaminson to diversify its chaplain program.
Michael Perice is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and is the senior rabbi at Temple Sinai of Cinnaminson.
A police chaplain provides emotional, moral, and spiritual support to officers, staff, law- enforcement families, and the community. They can be sworn officers of an agency or volunteers. Although they may be of one denomination or religion, the chaplains provide support to all officers, even if that means locating resources for individuals who do not share the same belief system.
The township’s chaplain program was initiated in 2016 and currently has six participants from different faiths. Lt. Eric Weil explained that the department’s goal since the start of the program has been to provide support to various religions across the community.
“There’s multiple denominations for the program, but it’s been something we’ve built out over time,” he noted. “We would just like to be as inclusive as we can. We’ve found over the years that sometimes people of a certain faith are more comfortable speaking to someone of their own faith. So we just try to bridge that gap for them.”
Prior to his position at Temple Sinai, Perice completed a unit of clinical pastoral education at Einstein Medical Center, where he served as chaplain during the pandemic. In 2015, he was named one of the top 20 emerging leaders in Burlington County for his rabbinical work.
Perice is also known nationally for his advocacy efforts on addiction and mental health. He publicly shared his own story of recovery from opioid addiction in 2021, and his goal is to end the stigma surrounding substance abuse. He currently sits on the advisory board of Safehouse Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to saving lives by providing a range of overdose prevention services.
Perice noted his appreciation for the appointment as police chaplain and explained the importance of the role as it relates to residents.
“I am honored to serve as Mount Laurel’s first rabbi police chaplain,” he said. “Police chaplains provide an important service for both the department and the community. We serve everyone in their time of need, from the officers and their families to the residents of our township, and we do so for people of all faiths and backgrounds.”
Perice added that he aspires to enhance community relations for the police department.
“My hope is that through this work, we can continue to strengthen our community, build bridges, and foster relationships based on trust and respect.”