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Phoenix police officers receive emotional support after traumatic calls

Phoenix Police support dog
Posted at 4:58 PM, Oct 06, 2021

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department takes the mental health of its staff seriously and has a team dedicated to it.

It’s called the Employee Assistance Program and it spans the spectrum of support offering everything from financial health counseling to marriage counseling.

In that span is support for officers who are called to some of the worst crime scenes in the Valley.

Like the one a month ago where two kids were found dead; their mom was arrested for murder. Or last week when another child was killed, a sibling critically injured.

“I think the community is aware of the kind of calls or a small number of the calls our officers are called out to on a very regular basis and it’s not normal to be experiencing those things at such a high volume,” said Sgt. Rachel Warren.

She’s a part of this program and tells ABC15 the goal is to make sure the officers can process what they’ve seen in a healthy way.

“So after they’re going to these calls we see on the news they’re going home and they’re spouses, they’re parents, they’re coaches they’re community members so it’s important for us to make them as well as possible,” she said.

The program also uses the services of K9 officers Maizy and Doc. These dogs are often dispatched to active scenes and help the responding officers deescalate their emotions.

“Their voice, their demeanor, their body language, their guard just completely comes down.”

Tom McSherry owns CPR, Crisis Preparation, and Recovery. He trains members of this support team and tries to help officers realize that while they can’t change what happened, they can change how they react to it.

"You have to be able to put into a livable perspective the event because you cannot change what happened, so all you can change is your perspective whether that’s ‘I didn’t cause it. I did the best I could I gave them a chance.'"

Tactics to help these officers remain whole, healthy, and ready for the next call.