Why Departmental PTSD Therapy Alone Will Fail

Why departmental PTSD therapy is needed but will not help as many as it should.

There are a lot of deep issues in the police culture that should be examined to understand why it should be done, but how 80% of officers  with PTSD, that need help will fall through the cracks with a one-sided departmental approach.

Before we look at my reasoning let’s look at the causes that most people know about PTSD and police work. Where the departments fail the officers and where the officers fail themselves.  I do believe that the departments hold a responsibility to take care of their own but, the officers themselves hold a responsibility to themselves as well.

In police work you must be strong, you must be a hero and stand as a rock.  If you do not present yourself that way to the citizens, and criminals alike, the citizens will have no faith in your ability and the criminals will not respect you.  As a police officer, it’s about being strong and in control, of not only a situation but in control of yourself. 

Once an officer begins to develop PTSD, he or she begins to lose control of things in life.  They being to look for unhealthy outlets to deal with the depression and stress.  In police work, being in control is very crucial on the street.  Once officers start to lose that control, they push harder in all areas of their life to assert control.

My dealings with PTSD

An officer might recognize these things or they might not.  In my case, I had never even heard of PTSD past the military and it was foreign to me.  I only found out about it after my counselor told me about it and said I had it. First I had doubts about it but I did a lot of reading and soul searching.

I remember times in the department growing up in the ranks. Some officers took leave on stress and the first line supervisors and command saying they were faking it; saying they were weak and using it as an excuse so they don’t have to work.  I heard this from a police commissioner about me as recently as 2012 when I retired.

I do find it amusing that in the first 17 years of my time in the Police Department I took zero medical days.  During my time with the department I was awarded a silver star, 6 bronze stars, and 18 letters of commendation.  I worked 18 of 20 years in specialized units from drugs, the DEA task force, a Sergeant in charge of a shooting squad and I developed the city’s Gun Trace Task Force.

As with anyone in any job, it’s always: ‘What have you done for me lately?’.  After my shooting, I did what all good cops do.  I was back to work the very next day on the streets of Baltimore.  It was not until three years later and my life spiraling out of control, sitting in a bathtub with a gun in my mouth, that I realized something was wrong.  At that point, I went on my own to see someone; at the same time, sealing my fate with many of my brothers and sisters in blue.  Not to my face mind you, but the whispers. 

Anyone working in any police department across the country knows the whispers.  The “He’s just trying to play the system”, and “He’s weak if his mind is broken”.  Those are the same people that will stand up and proclaim to be your brother or sister to your face.  The same ones that I still love to this day, even after the hell I put myself through with the choices I made, the choices that were my responsibility during the time of my life when I had PTSD.

How departments will fail

So back to the topic of this story of how departments will fail to deliver on helping the police family.  Even with all their good intentions, it will not be successful. They may tout success and they could have the best programs that can be offered.

As an officer, you must have control and you must have face.  Most officers facing stress, when they think of seeing someone about it, will avoid it.  Not because they don’t want help, but for two main reasons. 

Reason one, time heals all wounds mentality.  While this is true to an extent, PTSD is not only a condition that’s brought on only by one action, but it’s also cumulative, it builds up.  If the officer does not get help in some way, this condition will not heal.  It’s like having a cut, it may heal over time but continual cuts will not allow it to heal.

Reason two, they think they will look out of control and lose face.  How many of us have had interviews for specialized positions at our jobs?  Many officers don’t want to push a patrol car their career.  Some do, and I applaud them as they are better than I, to put on that uniform all day and answer 911 calls. 

Police departments are the biggest gossip place I have ever found.  If I were to be pulled over for speeding two jurisdictions over by the time I could drive into my jurisdiction the entire department would know what I did. 

Same goes for seeing a counselor.  If you see a counselor through the department, someone knows.  A supervisor always knows, and if they know their boss knows, and then their friends know, and before you know it you are the crazy or lazy guy- you’ve lost face and your control. 

Now you are fully recovered and back to work, and you want to get into a specialized unit.  You meet the requirements, you have the time on, you have the stats and skills to do the job.  You go to your interview and after you leave- the whispers start: “I’m not sure we should take him, what if he stresses out?  What if he can’t handle this?” or “If he goes out sick again, we will be short someone”. 

The excuses are endless, like all police work, you can do the right thing a million times but falter once and that’s all you are ever remembered for.  Same goes for a damaged mind.  It will not matter if it’s fixed to others, you will always be that damaged person. 

Additionally, departments have no way of recognizing cumulative PTSD and no plan on addressing it past their yearly in-service training on the issues, and how to deal with them if they come up past the departmental counseling that couldAdditionally- no matter how it’s presented.

The cost to the department

So, the question is what are we left with?  What can the departments do to help the officers at the same time encourage them to seek help? Everyone loses if the officer develops PTSD.  The officer faces losing his mind, his family, his finances, his job, and sometimes his life.  The department faces losing an officer, that costs money to train, and civil liabilities through workman’s compensation. 

What if the officer becomes aggressive at work because of PTSD that’s not managed?  The sky’s the limit for the taxpayer and the city budget.  If the officer is aggressive it could be a lawsuit, to even riots that could cost the city tens of millions of dollars.  In the Baltimore City riots of 2015, the city’s cost was estimated at 20 million dollars and that’s not accounting for damages to individuals. 

So what can be done?

We are left with what can be done if the departments can’t solve the issues.  The issues need to be addressed on multiple fronts.  The departments need to have mandatory counseling after shootings; this should be the normal routine. Departments should also understand that the officers will not trust this counseling because it’s all reported back to the command. 

It reminds me of the psychological test I took when becoming a police officer.  A few questions amused me: “Have you ever been abducted by aliens?” and “Have you ever fantasized about killing your parents?”.  I’m not sure any reasonable person, even if they believed they were abducted or fantasized about those things, would admit to it on a police entrance test.  Same goes with counselors.  Many officers will say what they need to say, to be cleared back to work and with the least amount of damage to their reputation. It’s human nature.

Yes, initial counseling is good, but the emphasis should be placed on what signs to look for and how to address any issues that may arise.  The officers need to be trained in different coping skills concerning PTSD.  Police Departments should not expect them to reveal too much in counseling.  Officers need to be told of outside resources available to them, should they need it.  While the department may not like this because they lose the control aspect, it’s better than the alternative both personally and financially.

Our approach

There needs to be more groups like ours, CopStress, that works with officers anonymously.  We let them know that what they say is kept in confidence like other protected relationship.  At CopStress, we use models to first talk to the officers; if we feel that they need more assistance, we have independent counselors that they can talk to.  If the counselors feel they need a more structured approach, we encourage the officers to then seek help through their department. 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping officers with PTSD.  Ignoring it and trying to control how it’s addressed will only lead to failure for not only the officer and their family, but the department, municipality, and society.   There may come a time that PTSD is looked at as you would look at a broken leg, but I don’t see that happening in today’s culture for at least another 20 years.

About the Author:

Rick Willard is a retired 20 year Detective Sergeant from the Baltimore City Police.  Rick Willard with others started CopStress.  He is currently the Chief Operations Officers in charge of Peer Support, Training, and Critical Incident Response. 

This police officer killed a burglar 8 years ago. It ended his career. Now he’s fighting back.

 

FLORISSANT • It was nearly eight years ago, but Kirk Lawless, a former Florissant police officer, says he can still taste the smoke from his gun and smell the blood of the man he killed.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relived that moment,” said Lawless, 57, of north St. Louis County. “I kill this guy in my mind over and over, all day.”

Lawless had just begun an overnight shift in 2009 when he jumped on a call to back up a rookie cop responding to a home invasion. Within seconds, Lawless had shot and killed an 18-year-old coming toward him with a gun.

 

It was the only time he shot anyone in his nearly 28-year career, he said.

Lawless received a medal of valor for killing the man and possibly saving the lives of the rookie and two people inside the house. But the shooting ultimately ended Lawless’ police career because of the resulting post-traumatic stress diagnosis. Florissant fired him in 2012 over his inability to return to the streets.

Now, Lawless is fighting back in court against his former department, the city and his ex-bosses. The disability discrimination suit he filed four years ago goes to trial this week in St. Louis County Circuit Court. He accuses them of denying him counseling or light duty after he disclosed his diagnosis, requiring him to use sick time instead of providing workers’ compensation while in treatment, and then firing him.

“Honest to God, I feel like I’ve been in prison since it happened,” Lawless said.

Florissant police did not respond to requests for interviews. Jason Retter, a lawyer representing Florissant, said: “The city adamantly denies Mr. Lawless’ allegations that they discriminated against him or any other acts of wrongdoing, and we’re looking forward to presenting our evidence in court.”

The shooting

Just after 11 p.m. on July 19, 2009, at least four intruders forced their way into a home in the 2800 block of Cranberry Court and held Michael L. Jackson and his stepfather, Marlon Harden, at gunpoint. They said they were looking for Jackson’s brother, pistol-whipped the two men and ransacked the house in search of cash stored in a safe.

“A couple times they shoved a gun in my mouth and kept asking me, ‘Where’s the money at?’” Jackson said in a recent interview. “There was blood everywhere. Right before the police came, they said, ‘Let’s kill them now.’”

Some of the intruders ran off as Lawless and two other officers stood outside. Jhmari C. McCoy tossed aside a St. Louis Cardinals ball cap that was concealing a stolen silver .357 Magnum revolver in his right hand. He ran past the rookie officer toward Lawless, who said he made eye contact with McCoy and ordered him to the ground before shooting him twice, fatally injuring him.

“If I didn’t do it, I’d be dead,” Lawless said.

Jackson credits police with saving their lives.

Four months after the shooting, Lawless was awarded the Crusade Against Crime’s Medal of Valor, the highest annual honor in St. Louis law enforcement.

Two years later, two of the other intruders, Javaughn Garth of Vinita Park and Jeron Ward of St. Peters, pleaded guilty tawarded theder and other crimes. Garth was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Ward to 15.

The aftermath

Lawless was hired by Florissant in 1987 after three years with Jennings police. While at Florissant, he served as a detective; trained new officers; and worked undercover on a drug task force.

After the shooting, he returned to patrol after just one day off, despite not having slept since the shooting, he says. His first assignment was an armed robbery at an Imo’s Pizza; the robber took off before he arrived.

“That was a whistle-clean shooting, but if I went back out and got into another one, how were they going to view that one?” he said.

Months passed and he began suffering nightmares, night sweats, insomnia, violent dreams and flashbacks.

He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in late 2010 but waited several months to tell his department, he said. Lawless said his bosses initially told him his treatment would be covered but later required him to take family leave and use sick time. His last day in uniform was in April 2011.

Florissant “never paid a penny,” Lawless said. “Never sent me to a doctor. I literally begged them for help.”

Lawless lives with his wife and son in North County. He used to have a therapy horse, Corrina, but sold her to pay bills. He takes numerous medications for anxiety but stopped weekly counseling sessions a few years ago because he could no longer afford them.

His wife, Lynda Lawless, said the shooting and PTSD have alienated them from people at the department whom they once called friends.

“I realize now why people don’t reach out for help,” she said. “I don’t think any of us were prepared for what the backlash would be from the department. For all those years, we were part of that police family, and after this happened, it’s like we fell off the face of the Earth.”

PTSD has ruined her husband’s sleep and makes him anxious about leaving the house; sometimes he takes clippers and tears off the skin around his fingernails until they bleed, she said.

“He says it reminds him he’s still alive,” she said.

Police and PTSD

While  traumatic stress among military veterans has received lots of attention, less has been paid to police and first responders, experts say. Police often bottle up those emotions and ignore yearslong exposure to traumatic situations.

“We’re very closed up, and it’s not just police. It’s all first responders,” said Kansas City police Maj. Darren Ivey, who developed a training program on recognizing stress and anxiety from secondary trauma, which comes from observing other people’s traumatic experiences. “Not only do we keep things close to the vest, we’ve been told our entire career to basically suck it up.”

That’s partly why it’s difficult to accurately assess how many police officers experience PTSD.

President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2015 urged police departments to address mental health of officers, citing statistics that police commit suicide almost 2½ times more often than others kill them.

Steven Bruce, a psychology professor and director of the Center for Trauma Recovery Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said recent studies estimate that 6 percent to 20 percent of police officers experience PTSD; he believes awareness within police departments is growing because prolonged overseas wars have produced combat veterans who return home and become police officers.

Lawless’ case against Florissant, Bruce said, “does nothing but reinforce the notion that if I come forward, that I’m going to get fired. It makes that cycle of being silent all the more powerful.”

Kyle Dooley, 44, of Cottleville, a former Lake Saint Louis officer who has suffered from depression and anxiety, helps run crisis training programs for St. Louis area police through the National Alliance of Mental Illness. This year, he said, Missouri began requiring that police get a minimum two hours of wellness training, which involves learning to maintain a healthy lifestyle and recognize risk factors.

“The state has recognized that it’s a problem,” he said.

‘Nothing to hide’

Lawless hasn’t sought work since he left Florissant; he was a police officer his entire adult life and doesn’t know what else he would do.

Nearly eight years later, he still describes feelings of “hypervigilance” — always looking over his shoulder for potential threats and ready for a fight. He carries a pistol in public.

In 2014, Lawless wrote a letter to McCoy titled “A letter to the man I killed” in which Lawless explained how he was changed by killing McCoy. Last year, a police documentary, “Officer-Involved,” which tells stories of officers after police shootings, tapped Lawless to record himself reading the letter to help promote the movie. He did it anonymously.

“I took your life, I get that,” Lawless wrote. “But still, you took something from me. And you changed me forever. … Killing a man is nothing to take lightly. It changes you. It changes what people think of you. You aren’t the same person anymore. And still I love life. I revel in the beauty of it, both the simplicities and intricacies of it. I appreciate life. This solitary act does not define me; it doesn’t even scratch the surface.”

Lawless insists this week’s trial isn’t solely about money; he wants to tell his story and be compensated for a law enforcement career cut short.

“I have nothing to hide,” he said. “They robbed me of 13 years on the job. I want vindication.”

Original Story

Divorce Rate and Police with PTSD

Who will take care of our officers with PtSD? 

Their families? I know mine would have if they knew what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was.  Your average or normal person cannot share our experiences, they can’t imagine what we do or see.  Many officers try to treat their condition with alcohol or reckless behavior.  They use the alcohol to turn off the noise, shut out the visions, and thoughts.  As a result they use reckless behavior to punish themselves and sometimes push themselves to the point of suicide.   Where was the family?  The family was along for a ride they knew nothing about.  A ride they didn’t expect or want.

 

In a recent Time article, the Divorce rate in the United States has dropped to a nearly 40 year low.  While this is true, there is data missing. Most researchers find that the typical marriage has a 50% chance of lasting. 

In police officers with PTSD, it’s a different story.  The police divorce rate is much higher than the national average.  Some reports have the divorce rate above 70%. No one knows the true number since many cases of PTSD go undiagnosed.

Experts say PTSD has harmed many families, “We see higher rates of divorce, family strain and social isolation,” reports Dr. Ash Bender, medical director of the psychological trauma program at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, “You lose your ability to feel pleasure and love”.

At no fault of the spouse, since many officers and families don’t know the symptoms of PTSD, they only observe the marriage as failing, or that the officer has changed and has become more angry, distant and combative; the spouse in many ways becomes frustrated with the relationship and finds a way out.  Sometimes justified on their part, the officer’s actions can include extreme alcoholism and physical abuse, characteristics that were never present in the relationship prior.  

What are the issues?

The abuse does not always manifest as physical abuse, but can also be psychological.  Often, officers with PTSD look for outlets to relieve the pain and issues with daily life and PTSD. Frequently that’s where infidelity, alcohol and sometimes drug abuse comes in.

Many times, the family does not know about the PTSD because it does not always come from one traumatic incident.  PTSD can develop over time into cumulative PTSD.  The day in and day out of seeing the pain of others, the death of adults and children can take a toll on the officers.  In addition to the stress of kids, bosses, bills and all other aspects of normal life, it builds up. 

Each person is different in how they deal with the stress, but sometimes the officer and spouse never realizes the PTSD at any level.  This often ends up in divorce and the breaking up of families.

Untreated, this adds even more stress to the officer with PTSD.  Officers often choose two routes, isolationism, keeping to themselves or, acting out.   The officer that acts out can be even more dangerous to themselves in some ways.  Many times, they will drink and get into fights or, drink until they pass out trying to forget the battle they are fighting in their minds.  On average 120 officers a year commit suicide. It’s also estimated that 70% of all officers that develop PTSD end up in divorce, in financial ruin, and are separated from their department within five years.

What can be done?

In conclusion, early understanding with the officers and families is crucial.  Learning the signs of PTSD even in the preliminary stages can do much for the officer, the families, the department, and society.  Officers that develop full-blown PTSD create divorce, broken homes, financial issues that cost everyone.  These officers can even strike out at work causing troubles with their department and possible financial obligations for taxpayers by way of legal claims. 

It’s very important that all officers, both new and the ones that have been on the job for years, understand the signs of PTSD not only in themselves but their partners, and how to seek help at all levels.  It’s also important that significant others understand the job and the signs of PTSD.  With early detection and support it is possible to avoid divorces and broken homes. 

Most police departments have psychological personnel that can help the officer, but many are reluctant to go that route.  The other routes are personal consolers, peers, and groups like CopStress.  CopStress offers anonymous peer to peer support and information on how to deal with PTSD.  

 

About the Author:

Rick Willard is a retired Detective Sergeant from the Baltimore City Police.  In his 20 years in law enforcement he worked in patrol, drug units, and HIDTA DEA Taskforce.  After being promoted to sergeant he oversaw a drug unit, was in charge of a non-fatal shooting squad, developed the city’s Gun Trace Taskforce, and ran a specialized unit building cases on murder suspects that evaded prosecution.   While he was developing cumulative PTSD from the violence officers see on a daily basis his full blow PTSD did not develop until Ash Wednesday of 2005 when he was involved in a shootout with a suspect.  His life spiraled out of control and it lead him to over 3 years of counseling and reading many books on PTSD and how to treat it.  He along with several others started CopStress to offer peer support to officers. He is currently the Chief Operations Officer overseeing peer support, training, and rapid response to critical incidents around the country.

Guelph research institute focused on understanding PTSD

 GUELPH — The complexity of post-traumatic stress disorder is only beginning to emerge, and the Homewood Research Institute in Guelph aims to get a better understanding of the disorder and how best to treat it.

“There are many dimensions of this we’re still figuring out,” said Roy Cameron, the institute’s executive director. “There’s room to improve treatment, there’s room to better tailor treatment to individual needs.”

Homewood Research Institute is a charitable organization that partners with Homewood Health Centre, which provides mental health and addiction services.

“The purpose of our institute is to do very practical research that will improve care,” Cameron said.

The partnership is key, providing researchers at the institute with a “living research laboratory.” Measuring outcomes is also an essential part of its research to determine whether treatments are effective.

“It’s a very unique set of things that we’re doing,” Cameron said.

The focus was first on addiction, and now it is also looking at post-traumatic stress disorder among military veterans and first responders, including police, firefighters and paramedics.

Post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t respond well to traditional treatments.

“We have to be innovative,” Cameron said.

Partly that’s related to the brain changes that are a result of chronic or acute exposure to stress, and addressing those changes must be considered to help a person fully recover.

“It’s not just something that affects their behaviour. It’s something that affects them physically,” Cameron said.

Different types of the disorder are also emerging, such as a dissociative subtype that causes people to experience a sense of unreality.

“Things just don’t feel authentic,” Cameron said.

For some, there’s a moral aspect. They feel guilt about what they couldn’t do, or not being able to help everyone. Researchers want to understand this “moral injury,” how it appears clinically and how to treat it.

Due to the disorder’s complexity, one approach to treatment won’t be effective.

One promising new treatment is using neurofeedback as a tool for people to calm themselves, since difficulty controlling emotions is a hallmark of the disorder.

“Emotions just get out of hand,” Cameron said.

Military and first responders “deal with situations on behalf of us that nobody should be exposed to,” he said.

The toll of untreated mental illness is huge on family, work and life satisfaction

“It’s very disruptive,” Cameron said.

An event is being held May 1 at Guelph’s River Run Centre  to support the Homewood Research Institute. The one-woman play by actor and comedian Shelley Marshall called “Hold Mommy’s Cigarette” is autobiographical, drawing on her childhood in a dysfunctional home fraught with depression, trauma and suicide.

 

Original Story

Ex-Virginia Officer Says He Had PTSD When He Shot Man

A former police officer in Virginia being sued by a man he shot says he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time.

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A former police officer in Virginia being sued by a man he shot says he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that former Norfolk police officer Neal Robertson testified Friday that he shot Marius Mitchell three times in January 2013 because he feared for his life after Mitchell got into his squad car and dragged him into traffic.

Mitchell is suing Robertson for $10 million. Mitchell says he wasn’t dragging Robertson and that he had put his hands up and begged him not to shoot.

Robertson served as a Marine in the Middle East and was diagnosed with PTSD for symptoms he’d been experience since before the shooting.

Jurors began deliberating after the four-day trial ended Friday and are expected to continue on Monday.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Attitudes evolving toward PTSD, police chief says

‘There was a time when these types of things were not only unrecognized, but were hidden’

 

Attitudes toward post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and policing have changed considerably since he began his career, Greater Sudbury Police Chief Paul Pedersen said this week. 

“I’ve been in the profession a very long time,” Pedersen said. “There was a time when these types of things were not only unrecognized, but were hidden. There was a stigma associated with mental illness that suggested there was a weakness of character.”

The chief was speaking after a police services board meeting this week, in which the force outlined its policies for helping front-line workers with PTSD.

Police had until April 23 to do so under the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, passed in the Ontario Legislature this month. It creates a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders is work-related.

That presumption allows for faster access to WSIB benefits, resources, and timely treatment. The legislation is part of the province’s strategy to prevent or mitigate the risk of PTSD and provide first responders with faster access to treatment and the information. 

“I think we’ve evolved,” Pedersen said, when asked about current attitudes toward mental health issues. “Certainly, the attitude we have here in Greater Sudbury Police Service is one of support. If someone breaks their leg, everybody rallies around and says how can we fix it? If there’s a break we can’t see, we’re also rallying around now.

“That’s a huge shift for our profession.”

While Sudbury police had to file a plan, Pedersen said they were already leaders in the province when it comes to progressive attitudes toward PTSD. 

“Significant efforts are made to ensure the psychological health of members is maintained,” says a report on the plan. “Pre-hire, officers participate in a psychological screening and one-on-one visit with the service psychologist. Once hired, all recruits meet with the service psychologist prior to attending the Ontario Police College and on their return, and one year following return.”

Staff at a higher risk of suffering harmful psychological effects participate in more structured programs. They include areas such as forensics, cybercrime, major crime, tactical unit and traffic Services. 

After a traumatic incident, officers who responded are debriefed by staff with specialized training.

“The team provides immediate peer support and access to resources for members who have been involved in potentially traumatic events,” the report said. “The goal is to monitor members post event and off support services where identified.” 

And in 2016, police provided Road to Mental Readiness Training to all members. 

“The service’s goal has been to promote a cultural shift which supports greater acceptance of the importance of psychological health and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and seeking help,” the report said.

“Ongoing annual in-service training will also include education and awareness sessions on mental health and wellness with specific emphasis on observing signs and signals of distress to ensure early intervention.”

Original Story

Toronto police memorial will now include officers lost to suicide

Police officers who die by suicide in Toronto will soon have the same right to have their names included on the Memorial Wall as those who die by physical on-the-job injuries.

CityNews has obtained details of a settlement between the Ontario Human Rights commission and Toronto police, which outlines how and when police must end what the Commission has described as “discrimination based on disability.”

There has been debate for years as to whose name qualifies for the Toronto police memorial. Both the police brass and the union have blocked attempts to include the names of officers who died from job-related suicide.

Thursday’s settlement is a result of a claim filed by the family of Sgt. Eddie Adamson, who died after one of the darkest days in Toronto police history.

On March 14, 1980, Adamson’s partner Const. Michael Sweet was shot to death during a botched robbery and hostage-taking inside a Queen Street restaurant.

Sgt. Adamson never recovered. Twenty-five years later, in a motel room surrounded by articles about the tragedy, Sgt. Adamson shot himself. His widow Linda Adamson told CityNews in an interview a number of years ago, “Ed died that night. They didn’t kill one officer, they killed two. My husband just took 25 years to die.”

See the full story on Eddie Adamson below.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has now given Toronto police six months to “develop a process for the inclusion of names on the Memorial Wall.” That process, the Commission says, “shall be issued by the Chief of Police no later than Oct. 31, 2017.”

This doesn’t mean that officers who die by suicide will automatically have their names included on the wall, but it ensures “equal opportunity for inclusion as the names of members who die from physical injuries.”

In a statement, obtained by CityNews, the Chief of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Renu Mandhane, says the settlement will ensure that “all members who lose their lives in the line of duty are treated w

ith the same degree of recognition and respect.”

Original Story

Police adopt #PTSD plan – #thinblueline

Sudbury Canada Police Adopt PTSD Plan

 

Greater Sudbury, Canada Police Chief Paul Pedersen believes his service has come even farther than most in addressing post-traumatic stress and its impact on officers.

Pedersen ought to know, considering the change in both attitudes and actions related to PTSD during his policing career.

“Certainly, the profession is changing,” Pedersen said Wednesday, following a Greater Sudbury Police Services board meeting. “I have been in the profession a very long time and there was a time when these types of things were not only unrecognized, but were hidden, and there was a stigma associated with mental illness that suggested there was a weakness of character.

“I think we have evolved and certainly, the attitude we have here in Greater Sudbury Police Service is one of support. If somebody breaks their leg, everybody rallies around and says, ‘How can we fix it?’ If there’s a break that we can’t see, we’re also rallying around now and that’s a huge shift for our profession.”

Pedersen was pleased, then, to see the police services board vote to adopt a new post-traumatic stress disorder prevention plan at Wednesday’s meeting, in accordance with the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, passed last year to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

The new legislation creates a presumption that PTSD in first responders is work related, allowing for faster access to WSIB benefits, resources and treatment.

Employers of workers covered under the presumption were directed to provide the Ministry of Labour with information on their own PTSD prevention plans by April 23 of this year.

“I’m really proud to say that we were well ahead of this here in Greater Sudbury Police Service, not only focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder, but a variety of occupational stress injuries that can and do occur in the nature of our business,” Pedersen said.

The plan includes the police service’s employee assistance program, which provides confidential and professional support, guidance, counselling and referrals when required for personal challenges to members and their families, including post-traumatic stress disorder intervention.

The plan also includes psychological support. Areas identified as high risk for potential harmful psychological effects, such as forensics, cyber crime, major crime, tactical and traffic services, participate in more structured programs with the service psychologist.

The service has a critical incident response debriefing team, whose members are trained to provide immediate peer support ad access to resources for members who have been involved in potentially traumatic events.

Proactive measures include training, education and awareness. Annual in-service training will include education and awareness sessions on mental health and wellness with specific emphasis on observing signs and signals of distress to ensure early intervention.

“It’s all about continuing to promote mental wellness in the workplace, and more importantly changing that attitude, that stigma attached to mental illness,” said Sharon Baiden, Greater Sudbury Police Service CAO.

While PTSD diagnoses are confidential, Baiden said members have spoken out at training sessions and shared their journeys with PTSD.

“We do know the work that many of our officers do,” board member Frances Caldarelli said. “They see and experience some really terrible things and it can become a problem. For many years, it was a problem that nobody talked about and people had symptoms, but they really didn’t understand what was the matter. I’m really happy that the province has … encouraged services to set up plans that will see that they get the help they need.

 

Original Story

Insurer tells injured police man: you can be a librarian. 250 job applications later he’s jobless

A former policeman suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims he was ruled fit to work by his health insurer and told to look for jobs as …

former policeman suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claims he was ruled fit to work by his health insurer and told to look for jobs as a librarian. Two-hundred and fifty applications later and he still hasn’t found work.

“After being medically discharged I wasn’t prepared for what came next but what came next was worse than the initial injury,” Watts told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The former cop had his claim for total and permanent disablement with NSW Police insurer Metlife rejected, and was instead recommended to seek work in a clerical role, as a librarian, a private investigator or a security consultant.

“I applied for nearly 250 jobs and it is impossible to get a job”, the 47-year-old said. He has no qualifications outside his police work, making applications for the jobs he was recommended extremely difficult. “I could apply to be a brain surgeon, but who is going to take me on. They don’t market test or speak to employment agencies and say ‘would you take this person on?'”, he told the newspaper.

“They send you to cash for comment doctors who make reports on you who say you can be a librarian.”

Watts claimed he spent half an hour being examined by Metlife Insurance doctors while the opinions of the doctors he’d been seeing for 10 years were ignored.

Watts was discharged from the police force after he admitted to suffering from severe anxiety and traumatic flashbacks.

“I’d walk into work and I’d be perspiring and my heart would be pounding at massive rates. I started having high blood pressure”, he told the newspaper. “I knew I wasn’t well. I realised if I put my hand up and said I’m not well that would be the end of my career so I tried struggle on.”

Mr. Watts claimed it took nearly four years for Metlife to reject his claim, during which time he and his family were put under surveillance.

“They were filming my children, photographing me out with friends. It made my hyper-vigilance way worse. It made me way worse and way more worried. It compounded the whole issue,” Watts said.

A spokeswoman for the insurance company told the Sydney Morning Herald surveillance is no longer used and in previous cases it was only employed when there’s inconsistencies in the information received within the claim. The spokeswoman was unable to comment on Watts’ case, due to the company’s privacy policies.   

 

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