NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD has a mental health crisis on its hands, and advocates say meditation can solve it.
We know them as New York’s finest, but beneath their tough exteriors, NYPD officers are often battered and beat, and the trauma is increasingly hard to hide.
“When I took that uniform off and had a moment of reflection, I realized how many pieces I was broke into,” Eric L. Adams, a retired cop and Brooklyn borough president, said.
Six NYPD officers have died by suicide this year, and Adams says many more, like him, silently suffer.
He says meditation saved his life, CBS2’s Christina Fan reports.
It’s why he and others are pushing the department to offer mindfulness training to all officers.
“This is gonna be a tool for you that you can deal with internally,” Joseph Alejandro, with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said.
Web Extra: Advocates Seek Wellness Training For NYPD Officers —
Earlier this week, the police commissioner did make an attempt to address mental health, announcing the department will offer peer counseling in all city precincts.
But advocates say the task force isn’t as effective.
“Going to the police department and saying I want to enhance my meditation is not going to stigmatize you. If you go and say I have a drinking problem, they say that it doesn’t stigmatize you, but trust me, when you go to what we call ‘The Farm,’ that is always remembered,” Adams said.
Advocates say troubled officers don’t reach out for help because the department views them as a liability. They are worried their mental health condition will result in their gun or their badge being taken away.
“When you see officers taking their lives, it’s time for us to stop thinking traditionally,” Adams said.
CBS2 asked the NYPD for reaction to the meditation idea, but received no response.
Advocates say officers need all the tools that are available.
In addition to peer counseling, the NYPD says it’s also working to remove the stigma associated with seeking help and support.
The NYPD also listed the following resources for officers in need of help.
- Employee Assistance Unit: 646-610-6730
- Chaplains Unit: 212-473-2363
- POPPA (independent from the NYPD): 888-267-7267
- NYC WELL: Text, call, & chat www.nyc.gov/nycwell
- Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line: Law enforcement officers can text BLUE to 741741 (non-law enforcement can text TALK to 741741)
- Call 911 for emergencies