TAUNTON (CBS) – Everyday, when police officers put on the uniform, they know it comes with danger. The badge weighs only a few ounces. But when pinned on the chest, it can weigh heavily on the heart.
Last year, the number of police officer suicides nationwide was 228 – almost double the number of active duty deaths. That’s why there’s a nationwide push to help police and to let them know help is available.
The Taunton police are spearheading the effort locally.
“One of the things we deal within this profession is the machismo culture,” says Chief Ed Walsh. “That we’re iron men, we’re supermen, we don’t have feelings. That we don’t think certain things. The reality is we are (human). We see things no human being should have to see.”
So they’ve produced a video that they want every Taunton cop to see and every other police officer In the state. It’s a minute-long video that focuses on one key phrase: “I will listen. . .”
“Officers become isolated,” Walsh said. “And they have to realize they’re not alone. That there are tons of us out there who will listen to their issues and concerns.”
Tom Famolare is a former Boston police officer, who now does PTSD training for police departments nationwide. He has seen the Taunton video.
“The idea behind ‘I will listen’ is to create a culture where among law enforcement officers it’s OK to talk about mental health and wellness,” he said.
Famolare said Taunton police did an outstanding job with the video.