OMAHA, Nebraska – In response to the trauma associated with line-of-duty deaths, training sessions in Omaha are assisting police and their families in coping with the loss and rebuilding their lives.
In the first eight months of this year, 86 law enforcement personnel were killed, according to new FBI data. Thirteen originate in the Midwest.
National Concerns of Police Survivors, a non-profit group, hosts trainings titled “Traumas of Law Enforcement Trainings” or TLEs.
Sheriff Tim Whitcomb of Cattaraugus County, New York, stated, “The more you know about PTSD, the more likely you are to dance.” He was one of the numerous presenters during the training sessions.
PTSD, sadness, and anxiety are relatively new topics of dialogue among law enforcement personnel, but they are already being discussed.
Sergeant Joe Nickerson of the Omaha Police Department and board member of Nebraska C.O.P.S. stated, “This is a three-day training discussing the type of trauma you’ll face, the accumulation of trauma over a long career in law enforcement, all the horrible things you’ll have to face and witness, and how that can affect you.”
The Nebraska chapter of C.O.P.S. was founded in 2015 in reaction to the line-of-duty death of Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco.
“After Kerrie’s death, we observed that the community came out in droves. There was tremendous support. This sentiment was strongly felt by our department in the community. Which helped us identify the need for support following loss,” added Nickerson.
On Thursday, they heard about mental-health resources such as peer support groups, access to financial compensation following the loss of an officer, and free support retreats held throughout the year.
More than a hundred people attended the seminar at Aksarben Village, including Robert Castillo from Texas. Participants came from all across the Omaha metropolitan area and the country.
“I was involved in an officer-involved shooting, so this trauma is understandable. Castillo, who represents the Laredo Police Department, stated, “You must learn how to cope with it so that you can truly continue your profession.”
Officer Castillo responded to a domestic dispute that quickly escalated into a firefight. Fortunately, he is present today. Nonetheless, he must deal with the consequences.
“Dealing with the circumstance of returning to work and receiving the same type of call again… domestic disturbance.” Could this be the same type of call that would be identical?” he asked. “At the time, our department lacked a peer support program, so officers previously involved in these types of circumstances were the ones that reached out.”
He and four other members of his department will return to Texas with the knowledge they gained in Omaha.
Castillo stated, “We received more information here than I believe we ever had in our department.” “It appears that we are no longer viewed as merely uniformed individuals who should be prepared for a mission. We are now humanized. We serve as officers. We’re human beings. We are parents. We are siblings. We’re sons.”