IMPD takes proactive approach to officer mental health

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is making sure their officers address their mental health. 

IMPD takes a proactive instead of reactive approach to mental health. They realized it’s healthier to notice if an officer struggling and make it a priority to check in on them before there starts to be a work-related issue. 

The office for Professional Development and Wellness wants to destigmatize seeking help. It’s a six-person office, made up of all sworn officers. 

Lt. Sherri Horn says more than 100 IMPD officers responded to the mass shooting at FedEx. Her office attended some of the debriefings and started meeting with those officers to explain what they were experiencing was normal. Some officers can experience loss of appetite, sleep or anxiousness. These are all things Lt. Horn says are normal until the body and mind can process what happened. 

Lt. Horn says research supports talking through incidents and that her office is a safe, confidential and non-judgmental place. 

“There are times when you get in your car and you just have to be able to process what just happened because you’re not able to do that on the scene,” she said. “We have to show up as public servants to be able to help them through their worst days and the traumas that they are facing. Does it impact us emotionally? It absolutely does because we would not be in this profession if we did not care and want to serve others.” 

The wellness department serves more than 1,700 officers, reserves and civilians that are on staff, as well as their families. 

Lt. Horn says this job impacts spouses and children, which is why they provide counseling if needed. Their goal is to create a healthy life for officers on the job and at home. 

The department analyzes and looks at daily reports for critical incidents. They reach out to all officers who responded to those calls.