Salt Lake City Police Department suspends peer support mental health program

Jul 12, 2023, 10:31 PM

SALT LAKE CITY —  A critical mental health benefit for the Salt Lake City Police Department is suspended by its chief of police.

Chief Mike Brown emailed his staff on Monday to let them know the Employee Wellness and Support Program is suspended. The email said the specific reason for the decision couldn’t be discussed.

“That decision, a very difficult decision, was made after we learned some important information about the program that required us to conduct a thorough review of that allegation,” explained Brent Weisberg, spokesman for Salt Lake City police.

He wouldn’t elaborate on the allegation other than to say it was serious enough to temporarily shut down a program that potentially helps hundreds of employees. The program relies heavily on “Peer Support Team Members” that help teammates as they deal with on-the-job trauma.

Weisberg said the department is aware of the mental health toll the job takes on employees and, because they want to make sure employees feel supported, they’ve established a partnership with a local support group that is made up of licensed clinicians, many of whom he says has worked in law enforcement.

‘It’s OK to not be OK’: SLPD hires mental health counselor for employees 

For the time being, the department will cover the cost of those services until they can explore long-term solutions.

The Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge released this statement to KSLTV that reads, in part:

“While we support justice, we recognize there is a domino effect that affects members of our lodge, and on a grander scale the police department.”

The organization said they will offer resources to Salt Lake City police officers while the Peer Support Program is being evaluated.

Weisberg said the department knows the peer-supported program is popular, that’s one thing that made the decision to suspend the program that much harder. He said bringing the program back is a top priority, but there’s no timeline on when that will happen.

“We are in the very early stages of gathering information,” Weisberg said. “So, it’s hard to say.”

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Salt Lake City Police Department suspends peer support mental health program