Program Aims to Assist Officers in Crisis

To help officers affected by critical incidents in the field, such as colleagues who are injured or killed, officer-involved shootings, suicides, accident scenes, or wildfires, the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) in Huntsville, Texas is launching The Texas Law Enforcement Assistance Program (TX LEAP).

The program will be open to law-enforcement officers and their spouses who have difficulty coping with the aftermath of a critical incident. It is expected to debut in the fall of 2012.

"We want them to get the help they need," said Dr. Rita Watkins, executive director of LEMIT. "We see them leave the job or turn to alcohol or drugs."

The project will be patterned after the Post Critical Incident Seminar offered by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program, a free, three-day program that provides safe and effective methods to train officers how to deal with critical incident stress.

"The officers are still dealing with the aftermath of the incident and haven't processed it yet," said Dara Glotzbach, a program coordinator at LEMIT. "It gets them unstuck. The event is right in front of their face 24/7 and this program helps put the event into perspective. "

The program includes peer counseling by officers who have been through similar experiences. Four Texas officers, who have participated in the South Carolina Program, will serve as peer counselors for LEMIT.

"The beauty of the program is that it is peer-driven," said Watkins. "They come out feeling that they are not alone, that someone in their group knows what's going on."

Spouses, too, will be invited to participate. Mikal Sieger, another LEMIT program coordinator, recalled a powerful transformation of a couple in South Carolina who came in like "robots," but left like high-school sweethearts.

"The spouses are invited too," said Sieger. "They tell their stories and they realize that they are not alone."

In addition to small and large group discussions and personal experiences, the program includes lectures on the phases of emotional recovery; law-enforcement relationship; cops, doctors, and medicines; fear and coping; and the search for meaning. It also offers a comprehensive, integrative psychotherapy approach called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing that helps to resolve the trauma caused by the event.

LEMIT currently has no funding for the program, but is exploring the South Carolina model for financial assistance in the development of TX LEAP. The South Carolina model is delivered through donations specifically for the Post Critical Incident Seminar.

"It is the most amazing wellness program that I have ever seen and experienced," said Dr. Watkins, who attended two sessions in South Carolina. "There is a lot of heartache for these officers, and we are looking at the opportunity to bring this to Texas. It's just too important for officers who deal with critical incidents."

Click here to read more about this program.

Link to the LEMIT website, where more information about this program will be available in the future.

< Prev   Next >

Court Case Update

FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE went through a nearly three-year ordeal in the New Hampshire court system, but eventually emerged unscathed. On April 4, 2008, the New Hampshire Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision of a lower court to exclude expert testimony regarding fingerprint evidence in the case of The State of New Hampshire v. Richard Langill. The case has been remanded back to the Rockingham County Superior Court.