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Statewide officer wellness program aims to increase peer support training

Published: Jan. 28, 2021 at 5:56 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Backing the blue, when they’re feeling blue.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is launching a new program to improve the state’s mental health and wellness training for law enforcement officers.

Law enforcement officers are more likely to end their own lives than be killed in the line of duty. Already this year 12 officers have died by suicide. That’s according to Blue H.E.L.P, an organization that tracks this trend.

“In law enforcement you have traumatic incidents so those are immediate stressors whether it be a horrific car crash or a death investigation,”

Said Cody Monson, a Financial Claims Investigator with the Chippewa Falls Police Department.

We also have continued stressors so it may be smaller stressors or traumatic incidents that build over time. An officer who has been working here for five years, 10 years, 15 years starts to build those stressors of seeing those same horrific situations over and over again.”

Monson admits that acknowledging those stressors is getting better but says we have a long way to go. Especially for smaller departments.

That’s the motivation of the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s new effort, to make sure every agency in the state has an officer who can identify and talk about those stressors.

“To get more people who are specifically trained in this area to get more officers the help they need in any way we can,” Monson says.

Mental health professionals are working with law enforcement to come up with a training plan.

“To get a committee together who can recognize and discuss those topics and then help push it up further to make sure they’re getting the help, I think that’s going to go a long way,” Monsoon said.

The first step is making mental health a priority.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-talk.

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