Peer Support: A Program to Safeguard the Mental Health of Law Enforcement Professionals




Holt, Jeffrey Scott

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


In 2019, there were 228 reported suicides among law enforcement professionals. In contrast, there were 132 line of duty deaths (, 2020, p. 2-3). Statically, police officers have a 60% greater change of taking their own life than losing their life by any other means (American Police Officers Alliance, 2019, p. 6). Law enforcement professionals across this nation are faced with continued oversight, scrutiny, expectations, and day-to-day exposure to traumatic situations leading to adverse effects on their relationships, work product, ability to cope and sometimes even leading to substance abuse and death. Adding to all the stressors, both acute and cumulative facing law enforcement, officers now share the additional stressors of current times (2020) with the pandemic, economic shut down, and the overt war on police. Peer support programs offer a comprehensive peer-to-peer led dialogue between the affected employee and a trained and certified Critical Stress Incident Management (CSIM) member. These members are also able to guide the affected employee through the internal and external processes often involved in critical incidents. Law enforcement organizations should initiate and maintain a peer support program with a focus on the mental well-being of all personnel. A traumatic event or critical incident does not only affect the involved officer but also their family, friends, and support team. This paper will offer in-depth research of a successful peer support program and explore the benefits and concerns affecting those who make up the program and those who are served.



Police--Mental Health, Police Psychology, Peer Counseling