Peer support a plus for police

January 16, 2019

Solving others problems while putting their own aside is a common practice among the nation’s police officers.

But this approach clearly has its pitfalls, and they were spelled out in a story written by Daily Journal reporter John Dykstra, which appeared on page A3 of the Tuesday edition.

The story detailed how the Manteno Police Department has established a peer support program to help its officers deal with the rigors of their stressful jobs.

How stressful you might ask? Blue H.E.L.P, a nonprofit that follows police suicides, recently reported 159 officers nationwide took their lives in 2018. What prompted them to commit such a desperate act? Joe Pancino, a retired Chicago police officer and Cook County investigator who now provides peer support training, said this to Dykstra:

“People are just starting to identify the damage that is being done to police officers every day they are out on the street. Police are No. 1 in heart disease, divorce and alcoholism. They see things daily that regular citizens may see once in a lifetime.’’

Four Manteno officers now are trained to identify signs of stress, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder that can accompany the job. A pair of psychologists also are working with the peer support team.

The goal is to address mental health issues in the early stages and before they intensify and tempt unhealthy behavior. While our society once embraced the “strong, silent type’’ personna which many officers have been known for, it’s now obvious that’s not the best approach.

We applaud the Manteno police and other departments that have similar initiatives. It’s something all of law enforcement should adopt.

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