ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Officers from the City of Altus Police Department extended their knowledge during a first responder suicide awareness training on December 9, 2020, at the APD.
Sunnye Cope, a 97th Air Mobility Wing Family Advocacy Intervention specialist, and LisaMarie Mariglia, the 97th AMW Suicide Prevention Program manager, help first responders recognize common stressors linked to sucuide, examine ideological subculture surrounding law enforcement and identify operational psychology of their everyday jobs during the training.
“The training was offered to help connect with new officers at the Altus Police Department by teaching them about stress reactions to trauma and resources for those in the community that have a connection with Altus Air Force Base,” said Cope. “First responders meet families and individuals at a heightened time, which can cause stress. Officers must learn how to take care of themselves first in order to take care of those they serve.”
Capt. Raymond Minst, an APD patrol division captain, explained that there can be many stressors involved in being a first responder including: balancing family and work, situations they may encounter, long shifts, needing a place to unwind, along with many other factors.
“Police work can be a stressful job and sometimes officers may feel like they have no one to turn to when they need help,” said Minst. “I think this training provides new officers with useful information from a new and different perspective they may not have heard before.”
Minst expressed the importance of training because it provides different, outside professionals who can help an officer when in need.
“Basic police training covers the highlights of suicide prevention training. There are multiple other agencies within the police realm that offer services, but having an outside agency available can be extremely beneficial,” said Minst. “Training like this is very eye-opening and reassures our officers that just because officers ask for help, it does not mean it will jeopardize their career.”
During their training, Cope and Mariglia also focused on the importance of relying on coworkers and family for support, along with outside agencies if help is needed.
“One of the most important ways for first responders and helping agencies to utilize each other is through connection,” said Cope. “This training allowed local law enforcement to meet two potential resources face-to-face while providing necessary training that will assist in better response and longevity in their careers.”