Police hope for mental health treatment

Despite the frequent encounters with trauma, such as car accidents in which people are ripped apart in the street, or victims being shot at the hands of their ex-lovers, in southern Nevada police officers are usually used to handle everyday tragedies. No breaks.

Police officers are now speaking out, saying it’s important for them to get regular mental health treatment, especially before they retire.

“I answered the phone at the scene where a father decapitated his daughter, and I still went back to work 30 minutes later,” former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Inspector Harry Feigel told a panel discussion at a mob rally. said in Thursday, May 11th, Museum. Police officers’ ability to be trusted could be completely undermined, he said.

Entitled “Cops in Crisis: PTSD, Prejudice, and Solutions,” the discussion featured Mr. Feigel, LVMPD Police Personnel Assistance Program (PEAP) Manager Bill Gibbs, and LVMPD PEAP Counselor Trudy Gilbert. Mr. Elliott and Nevada State Police Sergeant John Johnson attended. Travis Szmaka is primarily concerned with addressing biases within the police force that discourage them from seeking mental health help for fear of appearing weak or incapable of doing their job, and with the LMPPD Health Department. Focused on how such developments herald a new era for police officers.

Panelists found that the job made police officers overly vigilant, sensitive to potential threats, distrustful of their surroundings and of “everyone’s truth”, and that their behavior impacted family and social life. He said it could spread.

“Hyperarousal is a very important survival skill for staying alive on the streets,” Feigel said. “But turning it on and off is the tricky part.”

Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill, who heads Nevada’s largest police department, pledged to make mental health a top priority at Metro at his swearing-in ceremony in January. He said that due to the nature of their work, police officers can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcoholism, suicide, sleep deprivation and high divorce rates.

The panel, moderated by former crime reporter Shakala Alvaranga, aims to highlight the responsibilities of first responders and consider the implications for the community as a whole. He said the meeting raised concerns. Criminal Justice Panel at the Museum.

“They have trauma after trauma, so they have complex trauma,” psychotherapist Gilbert Elliott said in an interview before the event. “That means we need to break down this huge bundle of things.”

He said police officers, firefighters and people working in trauma-related fields can also develop complex forms of PTSD, which are highly treatable. Gilbert Elliott says PTSD has a series of symptoms such as flashbacks and thought changes, including a very negative thinking style that causes people to “avoid” people and places in response to the initial trauma. said. She also has other symptoms, such as trouble sleeping and hypervigilance, she said.

When it comes to PTSD, Gilbert Elliott says that while no two people are alike in terms of symptoms, they do overlap, and that “ordinary people” are more problematic than overly traumatized police officers. He said it was easy to identify the cause.

“I mean, it’s like dying from a thousand cuts,” she said of cop trauma. “And as time went on, the brain became so exhausted to deal with all the trauma that it basically… said it couldn’t do this anymore, and slowly but surely its active symptoms began to grow. You can start to see it going.”

Gibbs said officers sometimes avoid mental health treatment because the atmosphere at the police station is full of “macho people” and “testosterone” people who are not allowed to be weak.

After McMahill earlier this year pledged to make mental health treatment for police officers a priority, Las Vegas review journal Metro reported that it is seeking to create five positions for a proposed health department that would model similar operations in other states.

training, trauma, inspiration

In 2011, while serving as a traffic cop, Gibbs was involved in a shooting incident in which a woman with blood running down her back was taken away by construction workers. Ms. Gibbs was selling tickets on the side of the road when her boyfriend had just shot her in the back with a shotgun, firing into passing vehicles on a nearby exit ramp.

With the help of construction workers, Gibbs was able to walk down the construction site and join another officer to confront the shooter. Gibbs said the suspect pointed the shotgun at his partner after they split in two directions, causing him to open fire immediately.

“I started repeating in my head what they said on the practice field,” he recalls. “Don’t pull the trigger, squeeze, squeeze.”

He said he was always worried that his hands would shake when he was hit and that he would miss the target. But he credited the Metro’s “reality-based training” with the result that no arrests were made and no police officers were shot. The incident was recorded as the longest 38-yard shooting incident involving a police officer in subway history, and Gibbs was awarded the Medal of Valor by Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie that year.

“And when I go back, I’m still just a traffic cop, I just stopped someone for speeding, I’m just a John Q citizen, a normal person,” he said. “I walked to the car and now my hands are shaking.”

When a subway cop is involved in a shooting, he is investigated and sent to PEAP for counseling and training before returning to work. Gibbs said he was put in a police car after the incident and driven to the police station when the investigation began.

Nicole Chaffin Corbyn, 25, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is attending school to become a trauma nurse, said the panel raised her interest in joining Metro. She said this job of hers would give her first-hand experience in the field of trauma before working to save her life at her hospital.

“I don’t consider this a defeat,” she said of the police testimony. “I see it as a stronger one.”

Audience listening during the “Officer In Crises” program at the Mob Museum on Thursday, May 11, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/Mob Museum)

Chaffin Corbin participated in a panel discussion to support his friend Courtney Oldenburg, 25. She saw a Facebook post about the event on the Las Vegas Strong Resilience page, of which she is a member, and wanted to attend. Oldenburg was attending the Route 91 country music festival at the time of the Oct. 1 shooting, which also happened to be her birthday.

“I’ve struggled with PTSD for a while,” she said. “Maybe there’s something you need here tonight, but I don’t know.”

Oldenburg, who works as a cashier in Mandalay Bay, said she recently considered becoming a therapist and specializing in trauma-related services. She said her panel increased her interest in seeking a career path.

“Actually, I met my therapist last year and she’s actually still a therapist student, but she saved my life and I’m grateful in my heart. I guess,” Oldenburg said. “She was also the first to explain, ‘This only works if you put in the effort.’ And this only works if you feel I’m right for you.”

Oldenburg and Chaffin Corbyn’s friend Principe Valderrama, 24, who accompanied the event, said the committee was considering whether the same mental health resources would be available for all trauma-related professions, such as nurses and doctors. He said he was most concerned about the lack of disclosure.

He said his roommate works in the medical field and comes home with a worrying story.

“You probably don’t know much about these programs for hospital workers,” says Valderrama. “But they said they were going to change that. So I hope that happens soon.”

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