I-Team 8

Team of IMPD officers volunteers time to provide peer support

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Police Department in the 1980s put together the Police Officer Support Team after several suicides by officers.

The team called POST has evolved in 2021 into a peer support group that comes to every major crime scene … and this year has been a busy one. 

The worst mass murder in modern Indianapolis history happened April 15 at a FedEx facility on the far-west side. Eight people died before the shooter killed himself in the third mass shooting in the city since the start of 2021. For the officers, the day was a difficult one to process.

Lt. Ron Brezik of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said, “But, things like that, where you walk in and these officers got a run of a possible active shooter, so you have got to understand their adrenaline was going sky-high by the time they got to the place. They get out and see bodies lying all over the place.”

In the days after a major event such as the FedEx shooting, mental health professionals are made available, but the POST team offers immediate guidance and support to the officers while the dust is still settling at the police action.

Brezik said, “So, they (officers at a police action) are like, ‘Did I do this right? You tell me if I did this right.’ We stop them there and we say, ‘We’re not here for the incident. I’m not a SWAT guy. I’m not your commander. I’m not going to tactically debrief you on something. I’m here for you. What do you need?’ Did you call your husband? Did you call your wife? Did you call family members? Did you call your mom and dad, and let them know what is going on because sure enough it’s going to be on the news here fairly soon,” Brezik said. 

He adds that a mindset exists among some officers to tough it out and work through police actions on their own, which Brezik says can lead to destructive behavior.  

The IMPD lieutenant said, “We need to deal with this. Officers are going to stressful situations. Just the job itself is stressful; going to situations that normal people don’t see and you are doing that on an almost daily basis. You are dealing with things that … can hit you personally.”

The POST team is staffed primarily with officers volunteering their time.

Brezik said the POST team doesn’t share what officers talk about and offers no judgment. “It is all anonymous. We don’t tell anybody anything unless, we have to give the caveat, unless we feel you are going to hurt yourself or you are going to hurt somebody else.” 

Resources

  • NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Be Well Indiana Crisis Helpline: 211
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

Indiana’s Next Level Recovery program

  • Call 211 for help 24/7 or click here to go to Connect2Help.
  • Call the Indiana Addiction Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit here to chat live with a representative.
  • Through a partnership between Indiana 211 and OpenBeds, people seeking treatment for substance use disorder can be immediately connected with available inpatient or residential treatment services.
  • The Indiana Recovery Network also has extensive available resources.

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