Supporting Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement – In Body and Mind
As top cop and head of the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), one of my core duties is to provide support to law enforcement in Wisconsin, whether that’s by providing training to officers, helping law enforcement close cases through the state crime lab, and providing crime statistics. Often left unmentioned, however, is support for law enforcement’s wellness.
As attorney general, I promised the officers in this state that I would support them not just in investigations and grant money, but I also promised to help our state’s law enforcement maintain a healthy body and mind.
The deadly truth is: a police officer is more likely to die of suicide than homicide. And for every police suicide, there are more officers struggling with PTSD.
At DOJ, we recognize this truth, and we’re supporting Wisconsin law enforcement by increasing our dedication to officer wellness – both in body and mind.
A healthy mind begins with a healthy body – so we’ve added 34 hours of physical fitness to our recruit academy. We have also developed tools so current officers can enhance their physical readiness.
To prepare officers mentally and emotionally, we have increased training hours in stress management, healthy relationships, and financial stability. DOJ personnel are also now trained as suicide prevention program instructors and so far, these personnel have trained nearly 900 law enforcement personnel across the state.
Chaplains also play an important role in law enforcement agencies and communities, offering critical emotional support to law enforcement and victims. So we’re giving chaplains in Wisconsin the tools they need, by establishing a first-of-its-kind statewide training resource for chaplains.
Internally at DOJ, we are supporting our own staff and law enforcement. Since 2012, DOJ has had a support team available to our Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) staff, and our Internet Crimes Against Children staff have mandatory wellness reviews twice per year. We are also currently working to expand our own wellness sessions at DCI staff in-service trainings, and we are establishing a chaplain program.
This September, during National Suicide Prevention Month, I ask law enforcement executives across to the state to reach out to DOJ’s Training & Standards Bureau for more information about how we can help improve officer wellness in your agency.
If you are a law enforcement officer, dispatcher, or Wisconsin citizen who finds yourself struggling with suicidal thoughts, I urge you to seek help from support systems around you, or receive free, confidential support at any time by calling 1-800-273-8255.