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Peer Support - About The Program

‚ÄčHow it all started

The Police Employee Assistance Program or PEAP for short, was started in September 1984 by Detective Ed Jensen and then Lieutenant Jerry Keller, who later became the fourth sheriff of LVMPD. They felt it was critical to respond to the scene of a shooting, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide immediate emotional support to the involved officers.

Since 1984 the PEAP focus has expanded to include those stressors that are unique to law enforcement. Det. Jensen and Lt. Keller realized that both civilian and commissioned employees experienced stressors that affected their ability to work. Together they began to wonder just what it was about the law enforcement job and lifestyle that resulted in high rates of divorce, heart disease, alcoholism and suicide.

 In law enforcement we are trained to handle everything except our own emotions. In the past, employees who experienced critical incidents were expected to accept it as part of the job, returned to work and functioned normally as if nothing ever happened. This "stuff it" method of handling emotions revolves around the theory that "if I can't see it then I won't feel it either" and this method works for a little while. In 2023, the PEAP program transitioned into the Peer Support Program under the Wellness Bureau

A need for somewhere to turn

Depending on who you talk to, about 80% of police marriages end in divorce. Law enforcement employees have higher rates of heart disease, and our alcoholism rate is twice the national average. One reason is that we learn mistrust as a coping skill. In the academy officers are taught that everything that comes out of a person's mouth is a lie, until proven otherwise. That works as an interview approach but not in our personal lives. It's no wonder we can't unload our backpacks when we don't trust enough to share with anyone.

Officers are 8 times more likely to kill themselves than to die by homicide. Every 22 hours an officer in this country chooses suicide as an escape from the pain. The emotions they have been ignoring become so heavy and painful that death seems easier than living. Something needs to be done. There is a tremendous need for somewhere to turn.

Who we are

We are commissioned and civilian peers with a variety of life experiences - people who have been there. We are simply there to lend an ear, offer supportive honest feedback and connect you to resources that will help.  Together, the Peer Support members provide a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, personalities, and styles.

What we do

We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for crisis intervention. We respond to all officer- involved shootings, serious accidents and injuries. After a critical incident we provide follow-up contact with those affected and one-on-one or group debriefings. In addition to that we have regular office hours when we meet with employees or talk on the phone. Peer Support staff teaches about 50 classes a year including Post-Shooting Trauma, Death and Grief Issues and, Suicide Awareness/Prevention, Stress Management and Communication Skills.

Sometimes people want more than our short-term help. We give referrals to counselors, psychologists, chaplains and other professionals if that is needed. We don't keep records or lists of who wants a referral and it can be done anonymously on the phone, too.

Why does it work?

Simply telling your story to a peer and someone who is willing to listen without judging promotes healing. It unloads pressure from the sometimes-crippling weight of your stress.

Talking is a bit like defragmenting a disk drive. It reorganizes the critical incidents of your life into manageable parcels and most importantly it makes room for the next one. In law enforcement there will always be another critical incident. If we can process it in a healthy manner, then it won't be as devastating.