“Law enforcement officers go to work every day and do a job most people wouldn’t do for a million bucks,” said Patrick Yoes, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, who described how officers on patrol have been villainized. “I think it took a toll on every officer.”
In Fairfax County, Va., three police dogs make several rounds of random check-ins with officers each week, while also responding to critical incidents and any situation that may be difficult for officers.
The dogs tend to disarm officers who could benefit from help but might not otherwise feel comfortable talking freely with a colleague, said Lt. Christopher Sharp, who commands the Incident Support Services unit.
According to Blue H.E.L.P., an organization devoted to promoting mental health for law enforcement, at least 89 officers have died by suicide so far this year. That is compared 174 in 2020.
The police therapy dogs, Yoes said, are “sorely needed,” especially if used in a way that keeps officers from feeling like they will face reprisal for seeking help or counseling, particularly at a time when attacks on officers across the country are on the rise.
Shayna Jacobs writes for the Washington Post.