As anti-cop sentiment mounts, Mississippi-based peer support group saves lives

Updated: Aug. 20, 2020 at 11:30 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Statistics show that an average police officer will be involved in 188 critical incidents in his life. That’s compared to three or four for the average civilian.

“No one knows cops like other cops. Just to be there for emotional support, peer support whenever things happen, emotional high stress events, we’ve been there, we’ve done that,” said Cpl. Sean Haddakin of Flowood Police Department.

Tim Rutledge, the founder of Law Enforcement Alliance for Peer Support, or LEAPS, says he’s seen the need for a peer support group for police grow exponentially since he started the organization.

He’s not afraid to address what many law enforcement perceive as “the war on cops.”

“And maybe this war is strictly political, I get that, but for the officers it’s very real. And for their families, it’s horrendous,” he said. “So now more than ever, we need a peer support mechanism for our officers out there.”

In Pearl this week, officers who had been involved in critical incidents all over the state gathered at the Clyde Muse Center to talk about the media, line of duty deaths, depression, suicide and how to make their marriages work.

“It deals with our hearts. We have classes that talk about protecting and talk about gunfire and how we can protect or how we can arrest, but how many times we have a class that talk about how we feel,” said D.A.R.E. officer Dimitri Edmondson. “The things we see, the things we go through, it still affects us, we still take it home to our families and sometimes we need help.”

Armed with knowledge and now backed by a network, they are sent back out to be part of a statewide support system.

“Knowing that there’s cops out there that need help every day, and me learning to help those cops is awesome,” said Flowood Cpl. J.W. “Boomer” Graham. “We are human, there is a heart behind this badge.”

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