Newspaper article The Canadian Press

OPP, Government Not Acting on Advice to Help Traumatized Police Officers: Marin

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

OPP, Government Not Acting on Advice to Help Traumatized Police Officers: Marin

Article excerpt

Ontario failing to help cops with PTSD:report

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TORONTO - Badly needed changes that would help traumatized provincial police officers cope with operational stress injuries are getting the "bureaucratic brush-off" from the Ontario Provincial Police and the government, Ontario's ombudsman charged Wednesday.

They're failing to take action to help those officers, leading to tragic results, said ombudsman Andre Marin.

Since 1989, 23 active and retired OPP members have killed themselves -- two more than were killed in the line of duty, he said after releasing a 150-page report on the issue.

Cops battle with depression, anxiety, nightmares, addictions and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as a culture that tells them they should "suck it up," Marin said.

They're also fighting an outdated bureaucratic system that doesn't even keep statistics on how many OPP officers are suffering from these conditions, he said.

"To call the way they deal with operational stress injury as a shoestring operation would be insulting to shoestrings," he said.

When he provided the OPP and the government with a list of his recommendations five weeks ago, he got an "ostrich-like" reaction, Marin said.

The government was "indifferent," while the OPP dragged its heels, saying they will respond to the recommendations after further study.

"What we've heard from the OPP is a lot of claptrap and drivel, and very little action," he said. "That I find that very disconcerting."

One of his 34 recommendations was to implement education, training and outreach programs designed for officers and family members.

"Couldn't they say yes to that?" Marin said.

He's also calling on the OPP to conduct a provincewide survey to determine the extent of operational stress injuries among its police officers and dedicate a full-time senior officer to developing a program to tackle operational stress injuries and suicide prevention. Other recommendations include improving support for retired officers and their families, similar to what's being done in Calgary and Montreal. …

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