HCSO Awarded COPS Grant to Support Employee Mental Health and Wellness
Hamilton County, TN - The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is proud to announce it has been awarded a vital grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The grant will provide enhanced mental health and wellness services for our employees and other law enforcement officers across the region. The HCSO is one of only (41) recipients nationally to be awarded the grant which totals $98,572.
The grant will be used to develop a formal HCSO Peer Support Program and provide deputies with a series of mental health and wellness training opportunities during the two-year project period.
According to the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), good mental and psychological health is just as essential as good physical health for law enforcement officers to be effective in keeping our communities safe from crime and violence. As part of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017, Congress authorized the COPS Office to establish peer mentoring mental health and wellness pilot programs within state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies.
“This grant represents an unprecedented, holistic opportunity for our law enforcement community to help those in our ranks live better, healthier, and happier lives," stated Sheriff Jim Hammond. “Being a law enforcement officer is one of the most difficult jobs a person can have and the daily stresses and mental fatigue can be difficult for even the strongest of individuals. This grant will help improve our ability to support our personnel in their time of need and ensure their mental health and wellness is a top priority.”
The HCSO Peer Support Program will consist of a diverse group of carefully selected and trained employees who understand the challenges of the job. They will provide support to their coworkers during times of professional or personal crisis, serve as mentors in areas of wellness, and work proactively to create resilient employees who in turn will continue to provide exceptional service to the community.
Funding from the grant will facilitate the development of a regional network of peer supporters as surrounding agencies are invited to send members for basic peer support training. A series of mental health and wellness training events will also be conducted and they will be open to our law enforcement partners throughout the region.
“This award provides us with a tremendous opportunity to invest in the mental health and overall well-being of our law enforcement officers,” said Jonathan Parker, HCSO Law Enforcement Chaplain and Peer Support Program Coordinator. “If 2020 has shown us anything, it is the immense sacrifice these heroes make each day in service to our community. They deserve the very best in return, and I am proud to say that HCSO is proactively providing a very robust approach to officer safety and wellness.”
In addition to peer support, the Sheriff’s Office offers other wellness resources such as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), Chaplain Program, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a resource library, and wellness topics during annual in-service training.