TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – “That takes its toll after a while if you don’t know how to release that or deal with that,” Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse said.
The role that first responders play can weigh heavy on them. Whether its responding to a shooting, homicide or other forms of violent crime, it takes its toll.
Now, a bill making its way through the Indiana statehouse aims to address this.
House Bill 1321 requires the law enforcement training board to establish minimum standards for basic training and annual in-service training that address the mental health and wellness of first responders.
Plasse said that putting mental health at the forefront is always a good thing. He mentioned that he sought help when he returned from deployment in Afghanistan. He encouraged officers to reach out for help if they need it.
“When I first got deployed, I came back and I had to talk to someone to deal with the things I’ve experienced in Afghanistan,” Plasse said.
Plasse referenced studies that show that law enforcement officers are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. He mentioned the importance of breaking the stigma and seeking help if needed.
“I’ve been very fortunate to never have lost an officer due to suicide and I pray that I never will,” Plasse stated.
Vigo County Crisis Intervention Team Facilitator Jennifer Todd works with all law enforcement in the county in how to respond to a mental health crisis. This type of training gives law enforcement more tools in how they respond to an individual going through a mental health crisis.
Todd said that they’ve worked with area law enforcement over the past six years. So far, she said that this has been positive for the community.
“The officers have said that they just need more tools, knowledge, resources to be able to better respond,” Todd said.
The bill was passed by the veterans affairs and public safety committee earlier this week.