Mandatory wellness help for police

Mandatory wellness help for police

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell has told his officers they would each have a mandatory wellness consultation next year. 

With the coronavirus pandemic and the unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, Axtell said he’s heard from officers about “how stressed out they are and how under the microscope they feel.” 

Five St. Paul officers currently seeking disability claims, which can include post-traumatic stress disorder, said Steve Linders, a department spokesman. He said it’s unusual for the department to have that many at one time. 

In Minneapolis, meanwhile, an attorney announced in July that more than 150 officers were filing work-related disability claims, with about three-quarters citing PTSD. Last week, the City Council narrowly approved a $500,000 plan to bring in outside police officers to help fill the resulting shortfall in staffing. 

St. Paul officers already go through an annual physical fitness test. Starting in January and going through the year, they’ll also each have a wellness consultation with an employee assistance program therapist. 

It’s confidential and will be a chance for officers “to ask questions about anything from relationship issues to financial issues to chemical dependency and anything else that human beings struggle with from time to time,” Axtell wrote in an email to officers. 

Axtell said he’ll take the first appointment to “demonstrate how deeply I believe in this new program.” 

(Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press)