Broken Blue Line: NYPD continues to tackle mental health crisis within departmentPosted: Updated:
Mental health within the NYPD continues to be a topic of conversation.
Since the start of the year, 10 NYPD officers have taken their own lives as a result of suicide. While experts say we may never have an understanding, it does bring up the question of mental health and the current status of officers patrolling day to day on the streets of New York City.
This is now labeled a crisis by the department and it is not one the NYPD is facing on its own. According to Blue Help, 192 officers had taken their own lives across the country as of Nov. 1.
In July, News 12 spoke with Chief of Department Terence Monahan who says it is much greater than the stressors that come with the job. However, the NYPD is not denying that the job is stressful nor that what these officers see takes a toll.
Just last month, the NYPD and the mayor said changes are happening, including the steps in place when an officer is in crisis. "We changed our policy with respect to that so that if your guns are taken for medical reasons we will let you keep your shield … because when you're a cop, the shield, the gun becomes part of your identity. It's your job, so that's what we have begun to sort of understand that," said First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker.
According to the NYPD, 1,200 uniformed members of the service interacted with the medical division regarding mental health issues in 2018. The department said about 300 of those 1,200 became cases where there was an additional follow-up required.
The department also said approximately 100 of them had their firearms removed and their duty status changed because of the severity of their condition.
To date, about 80% have had their firearms returned because they received treatment. "Do not misrepresent this. This is about life and death," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
This fall, the NYPD launched a peer support program that trains officers to be peer support counselors in their precincts. "They're the ones that are going to be out there working with their fellow cops day in and day out. That trust is already there. What do we teach them, what did we share with them? The emphasis of listening. You don't have to solve someone's problems. It's helping people, asking, listening, to remind them ultimately cop or no cop, you're not alone," said Detective Jeff Thompson.
The NYPD has also partnered with New York-Presbyterian to create "Finest Care." This is a free confidential service that will provide comprehensive mental health services.
However, the question remains if this all is enough. New 12 will continue to follow the department's efforts and hold them accountable for the changes they say are being made.