IMPD recognized for work in treating police stress

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Even as IMPD officers struggle with the knowledge that a brother officer was shot by another cop Friday night, the department has been recognized nationally for its work in recognizing and treating police stress.

Scott Aurs will appear at an extradition hearing in Cincinnati Tuesday as Marion County seeks his return to face an attempted murder charge for the shooting of a detective who was investigating a domestic dispute between the patrolman and his wife.

“In general any type of incident such as that is really shocking for the conscience of our profession. Its extremely disheartening,” said Lt. Rick Snyder, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86. “Our focus is on the actions of our detective who was involved here and the actions of all of our officers in terms of their resolve and steel and steeliness in terms of standing the line and defending other folks.”

Even if its from one of their own.

Aurs was a decorated officer who fatally wounded an armed man who shot him in his protective vest in 2003.

He later served a pair of 20-day suspensions following his arrest on a charge of driving under the influence in 2004.

Aurs was later involved in a fatal crash that was not deemed his fault but over the years was subject to domestic dispute investigations at his home.

IMPD’s Office of Professional Development and Wellness was recognized by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch this past spring for the work it does in recognizing officers who may be susceptible to stress and engaging in counseling and training sessions to help that officer maintain his or her career and personal life.

“More services that are available to people in our profession are available after a crisis,” observed Captain Brian Nanavaty. “Why not educate individuals before a crisis, anticipating that crisis is going to happen at some point in their career or their personal life and help them be prepared for that?”

Nanavaty said some officers are resistant to reaching out for help.

“You run the risk of losing your job, so given the choice of losing your livelihood and the ability to provide for your family or getting help, you’re going to choose to not get help to keep your job.”

The IMPD program was honored with the Destination Zero Valor Award in 2015 for its progressive approach to identifying and counseling officers under stress.

“A police officer has to be Chuck Norris for scattered minutes, available to respond to crisis as it unfolds, but you also have to be Doctor Phil and you have to vacillate between those two roles,” said Nanavaty who is often asked why other departments don’t provide such intervention services. “How do you script a response for something that happens so infrequently? We have officers who are struggling and we have a very good mechanism for assuring that they don’t return to work until they’re cleared to return to work.”

The City County Council recently appropriated $50,000 so that IMPD might counsel its officers in the field of suicide prevention as police professionals are prone to take their own lives at two to three times the rate of the general public.

Snyder said the FOP often provides counseling services to both officers and their families.

“Our police officers are no different than anyone else. They are human beings and they have hearts and they have minds that they have to keep healthy,” said Snyder. “Sometimes we forget that the men and women behind those shields are your fellow neighbors. They’re your fellow residents. They’re just folks who stepped forward and swore an oath that they would protect this community on a daily basis.”

Snyder said the FOP hopes residents who attend National Night Out celebrations Tuesday vow not only to join together in protecting their communities but also reach out to officers on an individual and personal basis to acknowledge the toll protecting the public takes on their fellow Hoosiers.

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