Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness & Prevention Training Provided to Over 200 Law Enforcement in Massachusetts

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER18, 2013

BOSTON – The United States Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Massachusetts Major City Chiefs, Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, Municipal Police Training Committee and In Harm’s Way®, a Department of Justice funded initiative, joined forces today to promote the importance of mental wellness among law enforcement. Held during Suicide Prevention Month, the goal of the training is to raise awareness of the problem of law enforcement suicide, with the hope of making a small step toward changing the culture.

The training, attended by over 200 law enforcement personnel at Regis College, provided an avenue to increase awareness regarding the risk factors and warning signs of law enforcement suicide and provide strategies for prevention, intervention and postvention. Participants included federal Special Agents in Charge, Chiefs of Police, law enforcement supervisors as well as peer support officers, training officers and agency Employee Assistance Program (EAP) coordinators.

“Reducing suicide by law enforcement is dependent upon changing law enforcement's perceptions of mental wellness," said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. "Law enforcement faces significant amounts of stress on a regular basis. Although they are heroes in their own right, they are not made of armor. As leaders, we must take every opportunity to encourage proactive and preventative measures so they can continue with long and successful careers.”

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 Dr. Barry Feldman

Dr. Barry Feldman, Director of Psychiatry Programs in Public Safety for UMass Medical School, and James Steffens, Chief Forensic Investigator and SWAT Commander of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office (Fla.), were the key presenters of the day. Yvette Lillge with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) spoke about the USCG’s comprehensive wellness program. Will Brown of AllOne Health Resources, a contracted EAP provider for the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA), discussed EAP related issues specific to the law enforcement community. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie Herbert, Everett Police Chief Steven Mazzie, President of the Major City Chiefs and Natick Police Chief James Hicks, President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, provided welcome remarks.

“In this profession, we spend a lot of time training to respond to a whole host of issues that affect the people we serve in our communities. Sometimes, we forget to put the time into ensuring that our own people are ok. Today, we are taking steps in educating our own in hopes that we can aid fellow officers that may be in need of care before a tragedy occurs,” said Chief Mazzie.

“As Police Chiefs and leaders in law enforcement it is incumbent upon us to bring awareness to all of the law enforcement community of the potential danger that exists around suicide and law enforcement officers. This seminar will hopefully educate all that attend that we must think proactively and focus on prevention. Any knowledge gained will be a tremendous benefit to our employees and hopefully prevent a tragedy that can affect our departments for a long time after,” said Chief Hicks.

This training would not have been possible without resources provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, In Harm's Way and Regis College.