The Highlands County Sheriff's Office has a team of eight volunteer chaplains who provide Sheriff's Office members and their families with spiritual guidance, support and information when requested. They also are available at any time to respond to a crisis situation to provide comfort to victims and their families.
They regularly ride along with deputies and make visits to the HCSO facilities to be available for members.
The chaplains have to be experienced, with a minimum of five years serving a congregation and have to have three letters of recommendation. They take their own oath of office and are sworn in by the sheriff.
- Chaplain Richard Norris is the Lead Volunteer Chaplain for the HCSO Chaplain Unit. He has served as Chaplain for nearly 8 years for the Sheriff's Office but has been in Emergency Service Chaplaincy for over 36 years. Chaplain Norris is the Sr. Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lake Placid where he has served for over 31 years. He is Ecclesiastically Endorsed by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in Emergency Service Chaplaincy. He is married to his wife Susan of 39 years has 4 grown children, and has 3 grandchildren. He looks forward to continued service to the agency for the foreseeable future.
- After serving as an Associate Pastor and Youth Minister for 17 years in a local Southern Baptist Church, Chaplain Allen Altvater began serving in the newly formed chaplaincy unit in 2012. Born and raised in Highlands County, Chaplain Altvater received his B.A. Degree in Church Ministries with concentrations in Christian Education and Youth Ministry from Warner Southern College (now Warner University) in May 1996. Chaplain Altvater currently serves as a volunteer at First Baptist Church in Wauchula in the children's ministry department. Since May 2018, he has sought continued training in order to better utilize his K-9 partner, Trey, to build relationships, reduce anxiety and put smiles on faces of those that they encounter not only within the agency, but in the community as well.
- Rev Jesus M Perez, founder and pastor of Casa de Adoración Y Alabanza, Inc. for 19 years. He has been a resident of Highlands County since 1991. He graduated from Florida Christian University in 1999 with a BA in Theology. He was sworn in the HCSO Volunteer Chaplain in June 2019. He has been married for 33 years, with three children and two grandchildren. He is employed as a Firefighter/Paramedic at Hardee County Fire Rescue.
- Pastor Roldan V. Mendoza currently serves as senior pastor of two Seventh-day Adventist churches: Filipino American International SDA Church in Avon Park and Maranatha SDA Church in Lakeland. He is an ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister and has a bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy of religion from Adventist University of the Philippines, a master of pastoral theology from Adventist Institute of Advanced Studies and a master of divinity from Far East Advent School, both in the Philippines. His pastoral ministry started in 1981 in the Philippines with leadership experience, including active involvement in community, civic and religious affairs. He is an endorsed health care, military and law enforcement chaplain by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. As a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains, he has five years of experience in law enforcement chaplaincy. He is married to Loida Mendoza, and they have three grown children and three grandchildren.
- A native Floridian born in Miami, Bob Poulsen has a bachelor’s degree in biblical education and a master’s degree in theology. He has served churches in Florida and North Carolina for 30-plus years and has been a volunteer Chaplain for the Highlands County Sheriff's Office for the past 4-plus years. Poulsen is married to Cathee Howell Poulsen. The have four children, Robert (Buddy), Texas Stready, Curtis and Jedediah all living in Florida.
- Chaplain Bill Trucano grew up in Orlando. After earning a bachelor of arts degree in radio and television from North Texas State University, he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary earning the master of religious Education degree in 1972. He has served churches in Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan and Florida as a Minister of Education and/or Pastor. While in Michigan he also served the Greater Detroit Baptist Association as Director of Communications and Wayne State University as Baptist Student Director. In Florida he also worked for 14 years as a Juvenile Probation Officer for the Department of Juvenile Justice. In addition to serving as a Chaplain for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, he is also a Chaplain for Good Shepherd Hospice and Florida Baptist Disaster Relief. Trucano is currently serving on the Local Mitigation Strategy Working Group, the Circuit 10 Human Trafficking Task Force and the Highlands County Long Term Recovery Group. He has been married to the former Mary Carolyn Daniels for over 50 years and is the father of three adult children and four grandchildren.
- Jon Beck is the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church in Avon Park. He and his wife Sharon have been together since high school and have been married since 1989. Sharon is an English Instructor at Warner University and is active with Women’s ministry and Biblical counseling. They have three grown children and are beginning to experience the joys of grandchildren. Jon is a graduate of Florida Baptist College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served in the USMC with the Marine Aviation and Logistics Squadron 46 based out of Naval Air Station Atlanta from 1986- 1994. In addition to serving as a HCSO chaplain, he is active in the local high schools, involved with a Biblical counseling ministry and volunteers with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.