In recognition of National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day, Attorney General Ashley Moody is urging law enforcement who may be struggling to seek help. Supporting law enforcement is one of Attorney General Moody’s top priorities, and that includes highlighting available resources for officers who need support. In 2019, Attorney General Moody presented a cabinet resolution to the Tampa Bay Crisis Center for his regional law enforcement mental health support line, “First to answer, last to ask To help.” This helpline is now available to agents statewide.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said: “As we recognize National PTSD Awareness Day, I want to encourage anyone in difficulty to reach out for help, especially our brave law enforcement officers. These officers are exposed to traumatic events while protecting and serving the public, and these experiences can affect their mental health and leave them suffering in silence. No one should have to bear these burdens alone. There are caring professionals who want to help and are available 24 hours a day – so any law enforcement officer struggling with PTSD, please seek help – this is perhaps the most courageous in your career.
Clara Reynolds, President and CEO of Tampa Bay Crisis Center said: “First responders show up without hesitation when we are going through our most terrifying and stressful times, but must take these traumatic events with them long after the call to 911 has ended. It is time for our communities to support this population to the extent that they have supported us, and that starts with providing free and confidential assistance to first responders who are struggling to deal with the impactful situations they see every day on the job. Help is available 24/7 at 1-866-4FL-HERO (1-866-435-4376).
Approximately 100,000 active police officers in the United States suffer from PTSD, and many also live with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. According to a recent studypolice and firefighters are more likely to commit suicide than in the line of duty. BlueHelp.org says more than 250 law enforcement officers, firefighters, corrections officers and first responders nationwide have committed suicide since 2021, including 22 in Florida.
Attorney General Moody wants all law enforcement officers and first responders to know there is no shame in asking for help. There are caring people available 24/7 who understand the struggles and challenges that often come with protecting the public from harm and violence.
Since taking office, Attorney General Moody has worked to support mental health programs and policies for law enforcement. Here are some actions during this period:
Sitting on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice: In January 2020, former United States Attorney General William Barr appointed Attorney General Moody as the sole state attorney general on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. The commission explored the modern issues affecting law enforcement that have the greatest impact on officers’ ability to reduce crime, including the physical and mental health of police officers. The commission also made recommendations to help law enforcement officers dealing with mental health issues, such as: requiring mental health training both during law enforcement academy and in as recurring ongoing training for staff, ensuring that mental health resources and services are accessible and confidential, and establishing mandatory annual mental health checkups for sworn officers and relevant civilian staff. To read the final report, click on here.
Urge Congress to pass the Public Safety Officers Support Act of 2022: Earlier this year, Attorney General Moody, joined by 52 other attorneys general, urged Congress to pass the Public Safety Officers Support Act of 2022. The legislation fills gaps in support for public safety officers who suffer from PTSD associated with the high-risk nature of their jobs. To learn more, click here.
Host statewide roundtables on law enforcement mental health issues: During the summer of 2019, Attorney General Moody hosted roundtables on mental health and the criminal justice system. Part of the discussions focused on identifying best practices and strategies to improve mental health within the ranks of Florida law enforcement. For more information on these round tables, click on here.
Presented a Back the Blue award to an agent for supporting mental health awareness: Attorney General Moody presented a Back the Blue award to a Tallahassee Police Department officer who co-authored a book with information on mental health awareness and treatment strategies for first responders. Officer Sean Wyman co-wrote Going Beyond the Call: Mental Health Fitness for Public Safety Professionals. The book focuses on socio-emotional trauma, the impacts of stress, and communication strategies to reduce the number of suicides in the public safety industry. To learn more, click here.
Recognizing the CCTB Law Enforcement Suicide Helpline: Attorney General Moody introduced a Florida firm resolution recognizing National Suicide Prevention Month in Florida in September 2019. Attorney General Moody later visited the Tampa Bay Crisis Center to recognize the then-pilot program called “First to Respond, Last to Ask to ugly “. At the time, the program offered Hillsborough County officers a hotline to request immediate and confidential support. Now, the helpline is expanded statewide – any state official in need of assistance can call 1 (866) 4FL-HERO. To learn more about the Law Enforcement Help Line, visit LastToAsk.com.
Law enforcement officers who are in pain and need help should immediately contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. Law enforcement officers Orders who wish to speak to someone can also call 1(866) 4FL-HERO to be connected to immediate and confidential support.
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