CSPD makes mental health resources a priority for its employees
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – The Colorado Springs Police Department said it is making programs focused on emotional and mental health a priority for its employees, hoping to set an example for departments across the country as well. .
Across the country, there is a mental health crisis, and with officers fielding more calls, the CSPD wants officers to be prepared and know how to take care of themselves.
The CSPD says that over the past five years, particularly over the past two years, they have seen an increased need for mental health resources for their offices. CSPD offers a number of proactive programs, including three psychological service providers. The department says it has a large budget to pay for these services, so employees don’t have to pay out of pocket.
Their goal is to break the stigma of being in law enforcement and needing help.
“We’re trying to break that mold and say everybody has issues, everybody’s going through a crisis, everybody’s seeing trauma,” CSPD welfare sergeant Eric Frederic said. “But back in the day if it was something that came up they would take your gun away from you and you couldn’t work, so now we say no, that’s normal, it doesn’t mean you’re broke, it just means you need help like anyone else,” Frederic added.
The ministry says that having their officers themselves understand mental health also helps them better serve the community.
“One of the things we’ve done is really focus on crisis intervention training. Let our officers understand what someone is dealing with in a mental health crisis and how we can better serve them, and so when you’re dealing with that, everyone in the mental health field knows it’s really difficult, it’s expensive for you, so we want to make sure our officers are okay with answering that call,” said said Sgt. Jason Newton with CSPD.
Newton started teaching a mindfulness course six years ago. He teaches simple techniques like breathing and meditation to help officers.
Newton and another officer will present this mindfulness course at the International Chiefs of Police and Wellness Symposium in March. It’s an opportunity to teach other resorts around the country how they’re dealing with mental health in Colorado Springs.