PTSD and Law Enforcement

PTSD is an ever-evolving issue that our police department and our members encounter often.  Frankly, its discussion is moderately new amongst the law enforcement profession.  The newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (also known as DSM) is being published as we speak by the American Psychiatric Association.  DSM is in its fifth edition and used in varying degrees around the world- by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and policy makers.  For the first time, the manual recognizes that law enforcement can be affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

For years, most police officers have known that forms of PTSD have lived amongst our brothers and sisters.  Police officers respond to multiple critical incidents, sometimes every day for a span of about 20 to 25 years.  When officers deal with PTSD, their lives change.  This has included everything from family lives, relationship statuses, mental and physical capabilities, finances and other related issues.  Hence, MPA is thankful that PTSD is now more widely recognized within our industry.

However, it has been a delicate subject to tackle. Due to economics, Mesa city benefits and services have been eliminated. We are not aware of any anyone in the last few years that has been able to attend the West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat.  Mesa Law enforcement PTSD training has been limited.  More Mesa Police Officers are forced to seek a higher percentage of medical retirements than any other city near Mesa.

MPA has always advocated for a more preventative PTSD infrastructure and resources to help those involved in critical incidents.  We recently conducted two media interviews to discuss law enforcement PTSD.  For the first time, Mesa citizens in the Human Relations Advisory Board recently heard law enforcement concerns involving PTSD.  (Read notes from their January 18,2012, February 13, 2012, and February 22, 2012 meetings.)  Our organization thanks former Mesa Detective Nathan Schlitz for bravely telling his story in efforts to help other first responders.  Schlitz has spoken out to create more awareness and assistance for police officers.

Click here to read his speech to the Regional Human Advisory Board

Mesa frontline officers believe that our organization and the city of Mesa can do more.  All supervisors should be regularly trained to identify signs of PTSD.  More officers should be sent earlier to the PTSD support services, including the West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat.  Resources and benefits should be restored or improved.  Ultimately, the MPA would like to see more officers rehabilitated instead of being forced to take a medical retirement.

Everyone can help prevent, identify and assist those that are affected with symptoms of PTSD.  MPA looks forward to further discussion and preventative ideas with the City of Mesa.  Mesa taxpayers have invested into each and every police officer, and we all must do whatever it takes to make sure they are preserved.

If you are interested in learning more or think you might be experiencing PTSD symptoms, please contact Mesa Police Association at peersupport@mesampa.com.

Click here to see the clip about PTSD on  12 NEWS

Click here to see the clip about PTSD on ABC 15