NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City officials have unveiled a new program to deal with the NYPD’s suicide epidemic, tapping a Manhattan hospital to offer free and confidential counseling and medication to cops with mental health issues.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to allay fears that officer seeking help will face repercussions, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.
So far this year, 10 active NYPD members and two retired cops have died of apparent suicides. A plea from the sister of Robert Echeverria most likely haunts the mayor and police officials as they try to find ways to develop mental health programs for the department.
“I went to you, you blew it off and said he is fine and now my brother is dead,” Eileen Echeverria told CBS2 back on Aug. 16.
Eileen Echeverria said she alerted the NYPD six times about her brother’s mental state to no avail.
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On Thursday, officials unveiled a new program targeted at cops and their families that will be free and confidential, and it will be run not by the NYPD but by New York Presbyterian Hospital. The NYPD wont know the names of the cops seeking help.
“It could be any problem. You could feel depressed. You could feel anxious. You could feel overwhelmed. You could have a family situation that you don’t know how to deal with,” de Blasio said.
The program will feature a hotline operated 24/7 that will provide immediate help.
“It’s especially important that our police officers feel that they can seek this protection confidentially,” said Dr. Steven Corwin, president and CEO of New York Presbyterian.
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Officials also sought to allay fears that cops seeking treatment for mental health issues will face repercussions.
Of the 1,200 cops who sought mental health counseling from the NYPD last year, “approximately 300 became a case where some additional follow-up was required,” Assistant Chief Matt Pontillo said, adding, “Of that 300, only approximately 100 had their firearms removed. To date, over 80% of those have already had their firearms restored.”
Kramer asked thew mayor whether the program should have been initiated sooner and whether first lady Chirlane McCray’s controversial ThriveNYC program should have acted sooner as well.
“Again, I think on all fronts we now see that we needed to put other tools into the equation, but we didn’t know that,” de Blasio said. “This crisis this year has been a shock to the NYPD and to all of us.”
The NYPD has budgeted $1.2 million for the program. Officers can call 646-697-2020 to get help 24/7. The hotline will up and running on Monday.
The department also recently launched a peer support program.
- 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