Recognizing the urgent need to address this and other challenges to the wellbeing of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement professionals, in 2018 the U.S. Congress enacted the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, which directed the COPS Office to submit a report on the occupational risks that affect the nation’s approximately 800,000 sworn officers.
Based on the report’s 19 recommendations—which included officer resiliency training, collaborative peer mentoring programs, and remote access to mental health support—the U.S. Department of Justice authorized the COPS Office to award more than $2 million in grant funding for programs supporting mental health and wellness training, technical assistance, demonstration projects, and peer mentoring programs.
These are the 2019 grant award winners, with descriptions of the programs they will develop with this funding. As one agency noted in its grant application, psychological health is just as important as physical health. The mental state of law enforcement professionals has a profound effect not only on their safety, but on the way they interact with the public and make critical decisions in the field.
A 2018 Fraternal Order of Police survey of nearly 8,000 law enforcement professionals indicated that their preferred method of emotional support was peer support. Based on this information, the FOP will develop complete training modules for both peer mentors and trainers of peer mentors and offer them through their network of state and local lodges.
The Unified Police Department's Officer Wellness Program is focused on mental health, physical health, sleep hygiene, and peer support education. The department will provide training and support groups to dispel bias toward mental health issues, an on-duty workout policy, restorative rest options, and peer support resources.
The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) will combine the expertise and resources of the Municipal Police Training Academy and the State Police Training Academy to establish a statewide Connecticut Law Enforcement Peer Program (CT LEPP) by consolidating existing programs and expanding outreach to agencies without them.
The Omaha Police Department will expand its current Peer Support Program, which serves sworn and non-sworn personnel, to a level that aligns with best practice recommendations; develop and implement an interactive mobile application; and work with the University of Nebraska at Omaha to perform a wellness assessment and create a case study report.
The Richmond Police Department Peer Support Enhancement Project will expand access to peer support and mental health resources through the implementation and enhancement of an existing mobile smart phone app to facilitate immediate 24/7 access to trained peers who can provide support, referrals to trained therapists, and other resources.
The Memphis Police Department will work with university partners to develop surveys to assess officer job satisfaction and develop recurring training for supervisors, examine effectiveness of wellness programing, and assess overall officer safety and wellness through expansion of the department’s Peer Support Program.
The Cleveland Division of Police Employee Assistance Unit (EAU) will expand its current Cuyahoga County peer mentoring program to provide service to the smaller agencies in the county without EAUs. The program will work with the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Board, which will oversee the program and assist in providing training.
The Chicago Police Department Peer Support Program, which currently provides an initial 40-hour certification training, will provide refresher training, strengthen internal operational structures, build an internal training capacity, enhance and sustain the current peer support program, and stay updated on new strategies.
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department’s comprehensive Behavioral Health Services (BHS) division will collaborate with 21 regional agencies to formalize a network of peer supporters. They will provide train-the-trainer and peer support training and certification and update the Basic Peer Support Training Manual for distribution across agencies.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office will pilot the Peer Support Program for employees of the Department of Law Enforcement, Regional Communications, and Department of Detention, and will nominate, vet, and train 40 sworn and civilian members to act as peer supporters. The program will provide support to employees who experience critical incidents or are suffering from stress.
The Metropolitan Police Department’s Sergeant Leadership and Peer Support Program will consist of two cohorts, each comprising 20 self-selected sergeants meeting monthly to learn, share, and practice together. The department will also offer two workshops for lieutenants and captains to secure leadership buy-in and reinforce a culture of wellness in the department.
The Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office will implement an Employee Mentoring and Wellness Program modeled on the best practices of the Indianapolis Police Employer and Employee Resiliency and Wellness Program, collaborating with healthcare providers, team-building professionals, and behavioral specialists.
The Durham Police Department will implement a Peer Support Program consisting of a peer coordinator, an assistant, and seven peer support volunteers. The program will provide twenty-four hour access to vetted and trained peer support volunteers and allow officers to meet privately with peer support volunteers.
The Arlington Police Department will expand its current Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team into a holistic wellness program that includes peer support, counseling, treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, referrals to mental health services, and group discussions of topics ranging from coping with stress to healthy eating.
The Guam Police Department (GPD) will leverage the partnerships it has built with all levels of law enforcement agencies and nongovernmental organizations as well as the community to provide long-awaited and much-needed mental health and wellness services to its officers through the Law Enforcement Peer Support Implementation Project.
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