NYPD Teams Up With Local Hospital To Offer Free Counseling To Officers

WCBS 880 Newsroom
October 23, 2019 - 2:40 pm
NYPD Officers

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The NYPD is teaming up with New York-Presbyterian Hospital to offer officers free, anonymous mental health treatment.

As the department continues to face what Commissioner James O’Neill has called a “mental health crisis,” the city has been searching for ways to provide officers with more resources in dealing with the weight of their jobs.

On Wednesday, O’Neill announced they will be taking another step forward by teaming up with the hospital for the “Finest Care Program.”

Officers who are seeking mental health counseling can utilize the program for free and anonymously, O’Neill said.

He does note: “New York-Presbyterian's going to maintain a database. We'll just know the number of people that go through the program.”

The program will have the ability to offer counseling and medication to officers in need of mental health treatment.

“Think about the stress and the cumulative trauma that they see every day. You go to shooting scenes, you go to murder scenes, you're interviewing sexual assault victims. We don't really talk about it,” O’Neill said.

During a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded the new program, saying it will greatly improve the lives of officers.

“If you think you should pick up that phone, you should pick up that phone,” de Blasio said. “If you're lingering by the phone wondering if you should make the call, you should absolutely make the call. If you call, and then, the challenge you face is resolved quickly, god bless you, that's wonderful. But, if it's going to take some time, if it's going to take some attention, well then thank god you made that call.”

A total of 10 active and two retired officers of the force have taken their lives this year – a sharp increase over previous years.

O’Neill was criticized for being slow to act and some have pointed to other large cities – such as Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles – where mental health programs already exist for officers.

However, the police commissioner says he regrets not moving fast enough.

“Ten officers killed themselves. How could I not regret that? I was a cop for a long time. I know what they face each and every day,” he told reporters on NBC’s “Today Show.”

CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues reports what New York City is experiencing is part of a nationwide trend in policing. The non-profit Blue H.E.L.P. reports there have been 169 officers who have died by suicide since January.

Among the general population, studies show 13 out of every 100,000 people will die by suicide — it's 17 in 100,000 for police officers. 

Support and resources are available to any law enforcement officer who may be struggling. That includes the Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance – a volunteer police support network.

Officers can also text the word “blue” to 741741 to talk to someone.

The following resources are also available 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