NYPD, Columbia University put together police resilience symposium on mental health
In the last two years, 14 NYPD officers have taken their own lives.
This week, the department partnered with Columbia University in their latest effort to combat what they've called a mental health crisis, not only in the NYPD, but in law enforcement agencies across the world.
The NYPD and Columbia University Irving Medical Center partnered up and put together an international police resilience symposium.
"This is science-based; we're bringing in experts from all around the world," says Deputy Inspector Mark Wachter, of the NYPD Health and Wellness section.
News 12 is told 40 different experts from seven different countries, ranging from psychologists to leaders of other police departments, were part of the symposium. One of the topics was how to fight the stigma associated with getting help.
"People are going to have a bad day and people are going to need help, but there's nothing wrong with coming forward and getting help,” says Wachter.
It's something Wachter says has a direct impact on community police relations.
"If we have a healthier officer, we'll produce healthier interactions with the public,” says Wachter.
This year, four NYPD officers have died as a result of suicide. Last year, 10 officers took their own life.
"Even four this year, it's just unacceptable. We're always looking; what did we miss, what can we learn,” says Wachter.
Last year, the NYPD launched the Peer Support Program. He says close to 400 officers have gone through the training program and right now, there's a wait list of 500 more who want to sign on. As they share the success of this program with others, he says they hope to learn what other things they can do.
"We want to learn how to be more resilient; we want to learn how to train our officers for the ultimate goal to make our officers more healthy, but also to improve our interaction with the public also,” says Wachter.
They hope to hold a bigger, in-person conference in the city next year.