Heartland law enforcement officers attend mental health seminar

Helping police officers with mental health.
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 11:37 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - At the Drury Conference Center Wednesday, more than 120 registered officers attended a mental health seminar.

“We take trauma home with us,” said Cape Girardeau Police Chief Wes Blair.

This seminar addressed the ongoing crisis of mental health and how to cope with it.

“I’ve been incredibly supportive of it because I understand the importance of mental health for our police officers,” Blair said.

Blair also reflected on his time as a new officer 28 years go and compared the topic of mental health from then to now.

“When I was a young officer, if I had said I was struggling to deal with something I had seen, I would have probably of lost my career over it,” Blair said. “The department wouldn’t had cared. They would have thought that I was an issue or a problem and that’s so far removed from the truth, because a normal person can’t see what officers see everyday.”

Cape Girardeau Police patrolman Bobby Newton said the seminar opens the eyes to a lot of the older officers, that may not be as informed with the mental health side of things.

“We’re losing a lot of officers due to mental health issues, whether it be suicide or just leaving the job in general, so it’s important for us to address those concerns and give the officers some options that they can help deal with those types of stresses,” Newton said.

Blair shared some advice for those interested in becoming an officer.

“Find a department that really does value mental health for their police officers,” Blair said. “It’s okay to ask that when you’re going through the interview process--how do you, as a department, take care of my physical and mental well-being.”