Police officers experience many traumatic events throughout their active career. Studies in various research articles have found out that on average, law enforcement officers experience close to 200 critical mental incidents over the course of their service .
Kenya being a sub saharan nation has witnessed an increase in the number of cases within the law enforcement body where several officers have taken their own lives due to mental disability.
Several killer cops have been at the top of the news headlines in the recent past, for instance a police female corporal Caroline Kangogo ended the lives of many in cold blood before she ended her own life too.
In the past week we have witnessed a case of another police constable, Benson Imbatu based in Kabete Kenya who took down the lives of six people in a shooting spree before terminating his own life.
Various studies have been conducted with the aims of finding and documenting the causes of mental health problems among the security unit. It has been understood that some of the factors contributing to the mental health crisis in the law enforcement unit stem from mental health stigmas within the law enforcement community. Other contributing factors are the unwillingness to establish a mental health baseline in currently operating officers based on the fear that some of them may be unfit to serve the nation .
The big challenge is to establish that police officers are social beings like everyone and they can be affected by traumatic experiences too. So we ought not to be biased that they are unable to perform their jobs.
Following an intensive research on the subject matter, below are some of the blueprints that could play a major role in reducing the incidences of mental wellness in the law enforcement body.
Centralize Mental Health Resources
To start with, the security bodies should establish an area within the department where all resources available for officer mental health and wellness are centralized for easy accessibility. This will play a big role in simultaneously accomplishing two goals: that is reducing the stigma of receiving help and ensuring every officer knows where to go to seek help.
Partner With Mental health Organizations
Partnership with mental health organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness together with former law enforcement officers who have in the past experienced and overcame mental health issues will be very crucial in delivering lessons and education to officers on how to recognize signs of mental illness within themselves.
Collect Data On Officers Suicides
Security institutions shoud keep records on the suicide rates of officers from the department, and contribute to the data record platform, by having a joint partnership between the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
Prepare Lateral transfers For Critical occasions
Lateral transfers coming from a smaller department to a larger one may be more severely impacted by critical incidents. Ensure these officers receive appropriate training and assistance as they integrate into the different departments within the service.