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Nassau officials announce plan to expand mental health resources for police officers

Nassau County legislators, along with law enforcement officials, announced a bill Tuesday that will give police officers greater access to mental health resources.

News 12 Staff

Aug 20, 2019, 10:13 AM

Updated 1,765 days ago

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Nassau County legislators, along with law enforcement officials, announced a bill Tuesday that will give police officers and corrections officers greater access to mental health resources.
It comes on the same day a wake was held for the ninth NYPD officer to die by suicide this year. Officer Robert Echeverria, 56, shot himself in his Queens home last week. The 25-year veteran is originally from Long Island.
The bill would create an Office of Mental Health Awareness within the Nassau County Police Department and jumpstart an app that has resources for officers who are battling depression or contemplating suicide. It would also call for better communication with organizations, including the NYPD.
Legislator Richard Nicolello, the presiding officer, says nationwide statistics support the need for more mental health assistance for law enforcement officers.
Last week, Blue H.E.L.P., a Massachusetts nonprofit dedicated to helping officers with PTSD, depression and other mental health struggles, said there have been 122 officer suicides so far this year.
Officers tell News 12 that police suicides used to be a taboo subject, but is now being reported publicly in the media.
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James McDermott, the president of the Nassau PBA, says the last Nassau County officer suicide was three years ago. The Suffolk Police Department would not comment on officer suicides.
Eileen Echeverria, Robert's Echeverria's sister, says she did reach out to the NYPD for help. She says her brother struggled with mental, family, financial and work stresses. Eileen Echeverria also says she went to the NYPD around 10 times to try to help her brother.
The NYPD declared a mental health emergency in hopes that officers will ask for help more often.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart has already announced that every officer will get a full day of suicide awareness training.
Recruits in the Nassau Police Academy will get 16 hours of wellness training and all officers will be required to take an hour course.
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder says he welcomes working with legislators on the proposed legislation.
The wake for Echeverria is being held at the J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home in Jamaica, Queens until 8 p.m.
Funeral services will be held in Queens at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Officer Echeverria will then be buried in Pinelawn Memorial Park And Arboretum.
 


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