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Local sheriff pleads for more mental health care for law enforcement

BOONE COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — The Boone County Sheriff is pleading for better mental health care for law enforcement officers. Sheriff Mike Nielsen says his daughter, a Lebanon police officer, nearly lost her life to PTSD triggered by a gruesome murder in Zionsville.

Sheriff Nielsen posted his family’s story on Facebook and asked people to share it, in order to bring awareness to the mental health struggles police officers may have.

In the post he said his daughter “almost lost her life to PTSD,” after the murder of a Zionsville mother and her four year old son back in February.

His daughter, Taylor Nielsen, is a Lebanon Police officer who worked that case. Sheriff Nielsen said Officer Nielsen was not given proper treatment after that case, because PTSD is not talked about or recognized among police officers.

“We have lost many lives to a disorder that is treatable and more common than we want to believe. Police officers don’t want to admit that a call has affected them emotionally. Police officers feel that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. As leaders, parents, spouses, family, we need to do a better job of identifying the signs that our loved ones are displaying from this disorder,” said Nielsen on Facebook.

While Sheriff Nielsen did not give details about what happened to his daughter, but he said she is going to become a stronger person, a stronger police officer and an advocate for people who suffer from PTSD.“I always thought giving my life would be the ultimate sacrifice on my job…I never imagined my decision that day to send my daughter into the autopsy of a young child to document the evidence would have triggered what was almost truly the ultimate sacrifice of my career – my daughter. I am a broken man. We will heal from this with God’s grace, prayer and the right treatment,” said Nielsen on Facebook. 

24-Hour News 8 sat down with Sheriff Nielsen and Officer Nielsen after the Zionsville murder investigation. Sheriff Nielsen said at the time he was worried about what his daughter and the other first responders at the scene.

“I worried that day about not only for her but the young police officers that were at that scene because when you see something as gruesome as that, it will affect you for the rest of your life and unfortunately, I’ve seen many, many of those scenes and many of those accidents and I kind of knew what she was gonna go through,” said Nielsen in May of 2016.

To learn more about PTSD click here. You can find resources for anyone who may need help here. You can also contact Mental Health America of Boone County here.