GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – Grand Prairie Police officials are rolling out a comprehensive wellness program for officers following an alarming trend of officer suicides in 2018 across the country that outnumbered the line of duty deaths in the same year.
The four prong program is called GPPD Fit Force. The four cornerstones of the initiative focus on coaching an officer on their physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial wellness.
“Our PTSD and depression rate in our profession are five times higher than the civilian population,” said Grand Prairie Police Chief Chief Steve Dye.
The importance of physical wellness is something that’s well known in police work. Now, GPPD administrators want the same amount of focus on the other three prongs.
At GPPD the spiritual and emotional components are achieved with the addition of a new mental health coordinator and peer initiatives where officers can openly and discreetly talk about their mental health.
Officers say the stressors and trauma they are exposed to on a daily basis can wear them down.
“Bottom line to give officers a way to vent in private, and they don’t get to that point where I’m going to put a bullet in my head,” said Officer Carlos Canelos.
Then there is the financial arm of the program. Falling into debt is something many officers report struggling with.
Officer Nick Daugherty offers financial counseling and said he knows first-hand how difficult it is to do the job of a police officer effectively while stressing over finances.
“I came into my law enforcement career, and after the first two years I had accumulated over 80-thousand dollars in consumer debt,” he said.
After 24 months Daugherty managed to get out of it and now coaches other officers on how to do the same.
In the end GPPD Chief Steve Dye said a physically and mentally fit officer benefits the department and most importantly the community they serve.
“When we serve the public we need to be whole and healthy.”
Also, wellness program is required for all officers.
Recruits in the academy currently have the courses worked into their existing academy curriculum.
Officers already on the job take the instruction as part of in service training, too.