The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office hosted its first “Basic Peer Support & Suicide Prevention” training class last Monday and Tuesday. This class provided training to 26 personnel representing five area law enforcement agencies and the Hamilton County 911 Communications District. Class topics included providing effective support to those who are distressed, recognizing risk factors for suicide and making appropriate referrals for care.
"Peer support is one of the most effective and proven strategies for reducing stress and improving employee wellness, and is accomplished by offering employees the assistance of a diverse group of carefully selected and trained agency or departmental peer supporters," officials said.
“Our goal is to build a regional network of at least 100 trained peers as we continue our commitment to excellence for all citizens by providing excellent care for our public servants.” said Deputy Jonathan Parker, who serves as the HCSO Peer Support Program coordinator. “Thanks to grant funding from the U.
S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, we are able to serve our community by building our agency’s program and providing training to our regional partners.”
The Peer Support Program is one part of Sheriff Austin Garrett’s vision for promoting employee wellness, and is considered by The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2015) and the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act (2017) as a best practice for enhancing public trust and safety by promoting officer safety and wellness.
“The law enforcement profession requires deputies and officers to endure a lot of physical and emotional stress due to the nature of the incidents and issues they respond to on a daily basis. In 2020, while serving as chief deputy, I cast the vision to create a Peer Support Training Program for this agency in order to begin the process to holistically support the needs of our men and women by incorporating programs and trainings to address not only the physical health of our employees, but their spiritual, emotional, and financial wellbeing as well,” stated Sheriff Garrett.
Other HCSO wellness initiatives and employee benefits include the Chaplain Program, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), the Financial Wellness Team, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and The WELL fitness center.