Peer Support for Law Enforcement

In this blog post, I am going to address two things. I am going to provide a further explanation of a topic that was covered in class and discuss strategies for self-care. I am a graduate student at Boston University, and I am currently enrolled in Forensic Behavior Analysis (MET CJ 725). I have learned many things from this course and one topic that we covered recently was approach to self-care. This topic hits close to home for me because I am an active police officer and I have been in law enforcement for the past seven years. This career path is challenging and rewarding and there is a lot of pressure and responsibility in this job. However, that is not what I am here to talk about, I am here to talk about the “forbidden” topic that not too many people cared to talk about or admit was true until recently, and that topic is trauma. More specifically, trauma that is experienced by police officers.

Trauma is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Now, police officers see the absolute worst that society has to offer and that is just the nature of the job. I have always said, “no one calls the cops to say hello or to invite them over because they are having a great day”. The reality is the police are called for emergencies or to handle abnormal situations that cannot be dealt with civilly. In the past, there was really no room for emotion or at least there was no opportunity for an officer to express their emotions and to admit that they were suffering mentally from what they witnessed or experienced. I mentioned this in class, but it was recently said to me during a training that “no longer are the days of someone saying, suck it up kid, this is what you signed up for”. Police officers are human beings too and to expect people in this profession to not experience some sort of trauma is not fair.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a big push for teams that are called “Peer support groups”. Basically, a peer support group is a team of law enforcement officers (peers) and mental health professionals that make themselves available to their co-workers and to other law enforcement officers who belong to different agencies. The people on this team are there to lend their support, empathy, and anything else that may be needed for the fellow brother or sister that is struggling mentally or has experienced some traumatic event. And because these people are “peers”, police officers tend to feel more comfortable seeking them out and opening up to them. In an article written on the International Chiefs of Police website, there is a quote that says “the biggest choosing of services for police officers is peer support. 3 out of 4 would rather go to peer support than any other kind of services out there” ( This is huge, because it’s hard to get police officers to open up to anyone about anything because there is the stigma that they need to be tough, both physically and mentally. So the fact that they are willing to open up to their peers finally opens to door for more services and to get these people the help they deserve.

In addition, peer support is not a loosely put together idea that sounds good on paper but is not proven in the field. The COPS office in the Department of Justice has outlined a program that can help establish peer support teams, spanning from the biggest departments to the smaller, more rural departments. In the article “Peer Support for Officer Wellness”, it breaks down why it is important for a peer support team, and it also lays out a roadmap on how to successfully implement this kind of program in any department (

In conclusion, police officers are people too who experience the same kind of emotions as everyone else. The job of a police officer is rewarding, but it can also be taxing both physically and mentally. Seeking out help is no longer frowned upon. In fact, it’s encouraged. Peer support teams are an important part of this profession, and it is a movement that needs even more recognition than it is currently receiving. It is okay to not be okay. The support is out there.






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One comment

  1. I can’t thank you enough for speaking about this, Brendon. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. As a student and supporter of law enforcement for almost two decades, I agree that it is well past time for LEO’s to get the support they need and deserve. A peer support network is an excellent way to connect with someone who has been in your shoes directly, to not only sympathize but offer support and guidance. I only expand slightly on your excellent post by saying that officers are under stress that most of us cannot even imagine. You see and manage events and people that sometimes require superhuman strength and skills. The body and mind of a LEO is in a near constant state of high alert and that level of stress can wear down all your gears. There is life after law enforcement and we want you to stay safe and healthy. Thank you again for an excellent post and service to your community!

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