POLICE Magazine

APR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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POLICEMAG.COM 39 Gill—another of the three co-founders of BlueH.E.L.P. McGill says the first step is to talk about the issue. e next is to take meaningful actions that address the problem from a practical perspective. "We've addressed officer safety in every other area of our jobs except the one that is the single most likely killer of our officers," McGill says. "What serves as a motivating or mitigating variable to each person seems to be different, so there is no 'one size fits all' response to this issue." McGill adds, "We must address the 'whole-officer concept'—including mental, physical, social, and family concerns. is will require the cre- ation of a layered mental health support structure. Supervisors, peer supporters, and credible mental health workers need to be trained and clearly identified for both officers and family members so they know where to look for help. More importantly, these trained individuals need to be actively looking for those who may need help." Some of the practical actions McGill suggests include: • Start regular discussions about mental health and suicide prevention in law enforcement during basic recruit training, in-service training, and pre- shift briefings. • Encourage mental health workers, chaplains, and other sources of support to ride along with officers on a regu- lar basis. is builds trust between all parties and ensures those who may be called on for support to have a better understanding of the challenges of po- lice work. • Establish relationships with fami- lies before there's a need. Spousal sup- port networks, shift/unit socials, and agency-wide events allow interactions amongst peers and their families—out- side of the work environment—to build trust. • Identify credible mental health re- sources in your area that understand police culture. If you don't have some- one, then find someone who is willing to learn police culture—and teach them! If the "spike" of suicides in Chicago does anything to further the nationwide discussion about this problem, then those officers—whose deaths are terrible tragedies—may not have died in vain. If police leaders see these headlines and subsequently reexamine the cul- ture at their agencies—with the goal of taking the stigma out of mental health assistance—then some good may have come from these dreadful events. If officers take stock of their own mental health challenges and seek the assistance of a trained professional, then the law enforcement profession will have been made better, healthier, and stronger. According to BlueH.E.L.P., in the three-year span between January 2016 and December 2018, some 460 officers are known to have died by suicide. Let that sink in—460 known police suicides in three years. at's 153 every year. at's 12 every month. Doug Wyllie is web editor for POLICE. simplifying t h e d u t y h o l s t e r made in the u.s.a. X - C A L I B U R TM The X-Calibur works with your body's natural mechanics, incorporating the Science of Human Factors to produce a secure, fast, and intuitive duty holster. p o i n t b l a n k e n t e r p r i s e s . c o m PHOTO: GET T Y IMAGES

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