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10-13-11, 07:45 AM #1
San Diego establishes new confidential counseling programs to help with stress caused by police work and economic problemsReporting from San Diego— Rocked by a string of officer-misconduct cases, the San Diego Police Department is trying to prevent future problems by helping officers cope with stress akin to that of combat veterans, as well as with problems linked to a sour economy, police officials said Wednesday.
Police Chief Bill Lansdowne told a City Council committee that many officers and their family members have sought help through a new confidential help line and a wellness program modeled after a program used by the Denver Police Department.
Capt. Sarah Creighton said officers are seeking help because the program is not part of a disciplinary process: "It's good because they're coming forward, it's bad because they're desperate. It's a mixed bag."
Committee members were supportive of Lansdowne's seven-point program announced last spring but indicated that they want to be kept informed of its development — and possibly even be allowed to sit in on meetings with officers seeking help.The incidents include allegations of off-duty drunk driving, spousal abuse and stalking, and on-duty rape and excessive force. Five officers have left the force as a result; two are set for trial on sexual assault charges.
The department is working with UC San Diego Medical School staff to develop counseling programs for officers and has asked a researcher at the University of San Diego to study the "warrior mentality" that can cause alienation and misbehavior.
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