CALL FOR ACTION!!
Brothers & Sisters,
In 2014 the Colorado General Assembly established a Governor’s Task Force co-chaired by the FOP, to take testimony and examine the impact of PTSD on police officers. Some of the findings of that task force were subsequently enacted into law, the most notable being a change in Workers’ Comp coverage recognizing peace officer PSTD and mental trauma as a work-related injury in most situations.
And in 2017, the Colorado FOP assisted in the creation and worked hard to gain passage of HB17-1215 creating the “Peace Officer Mental Health Grant Program.” In 2018, we were successful in securing an annual appropriation of $2 million from the Colorado General Assembly to fund this program. These grants allow law enforcement agencies and organizations to engage mental health professionals to not only provide on-scene assistance to officers responding to people with mental health disorders, but also to provide ongoing counseling services for officers.
Crucial funding for that program is now in serious jeopardy. Due to COVID-19’s devastating impact on Colorado’s budget, the state is in the process of making drastic budget cuts to a significant number of programs. This includes a possible cut of funding for the “Peace Officer Mental Health Grant Program”. The decision about whether to continue funding this program will be voted on by the Joint Budget Committee sometime within the next couple of days.
The State FOP is lobbying hard to keep this crucial program funded. But we need your help in that effort. We are asking officers and their family members to contact the following Joint Budget Committee members via phone and/or email immediately to urge them to preserve the annual $2 million funding of the “Peace Officer Mental Health Grant Program.” Your assistance in this effort is greatly appreciated. If there is no answer at the Legislator’s phone leave a message urging support for funding, and please follow up with an email:
Please let these legislators know how important this funding is to protect those who are protecting us during these uncertain times. We know they are making some very difficult decisions right now, but this funding has a crucial and demonstrated public health and safety impact on both peace officers and the communities they serve throughout Colorado.
Here are just a few examples of how these grant funds are being used, but please do highlight your own experiences if you are willing to share them:
Summit County: A co-responder team comprised of a law enforcement officer and a behavioral health specialist, which helps de-escalate situations that have historically resulted in arrest or hospitalization and assesses whether the person should be referred for an immediate behavioral health assessment. This approach helps prevent unnecessary incarceration and/or hospitalization of persons with mental illness.
Montezuma County: A psychologist, who was a former law enforcement officer, was employed through the grant. Services, which include crisis intervention and individual behavioral health treatment consultations, are provided to employees free of charge. These services have provided support for officers experiencing: an alcohol-related crisis that might have led to the end of a career, PTSD, a TBI crisis and the death of an extended family member. This program has the potential to save lives, careers, marriages, and improve job satisfaction. It is extremely important that the successful DOLA grant for Peace Officer Mental Health at the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office be continued.
Garfield County: The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office has provided on-site mental health appointments and hosted a five-day seminar for officers and their families. Appointments are available with a public safety psychologist for our 149-law enforcement officials. And last fall, Garfield County hosted a five-day statewide mental body armor conference, where over 280 Colorado law enforcement officers learned about career stress, suicide, burnout prevention and how to keep healthy in this profession.
Boulder County: Boulder County was able to secure funding to have a contract psychologist work with our employees, organize debriefings, or see the employee or their immediate family to counsel them through work-related stresses and trauma. The employee may contact the psychologist directly with no supervisory approval or even notice required. They can meet onsite or offsite.
Stephen Schulz, President - Colorado State Lodge
Fraternal Order of Police
CLICK THIS LINK TO DOWNLOAD PRESIDENT SCHULZ' LETTER: Call to Action