CopShock: Second Edition
Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

by Allen R. Kates, MFAW, BCECR

 Peer Support for Police Officers' Family

A number of departments now provide treatment services and training to officers’ families. Support helps to reduce stress in the family, limit stress family members may cause the officer and turn family input into a source of comfort. The International Association of Chiefs of Police suggests that police agencies should offer support through marital counseling, post-shooting trauma debriefing, group discussions, orientation programs and frequent family events.

Some departments provide training for family members while their loved ones attend the academy. The training may consist of several weeks of ridealongs and courses on police work, stress management and weapons practice. Martin Reiser, former director of the LAPD’s Behavioral Science Unit, suggests that departments provide periodic stress training after the academy in joint sessions for officers and family members. Further details can be found on pages 137-147 of Developing a Law Enforcement Stress Program for Officers and Their Families by Peter Finn and Julie Esselman Tomz, 1997. The entire 222-page book published by the National Institute of Justice is online for free at:

Police Family Plan
As well as welcoming police officers, New York City’s POPPA peer support organization invites police officer families to attend seminars designed solely for them. The family is the most important support unit for cops, and director Bill Genêt wants to be sure family members understand their roles.

   Known as the Police Family Plan, the discussion group teaches loved ones, including children, how to identify and work with officers suppressing feelings from trauma. Bill’s Peer Support Officers advise family members to encourage police officers to talk about their feelings and experiences, to make talking, usually taboo, acceptable. Vocalizing feelings helps reduce the risk of developing PTSD. See Retirement in chapter 16 for information on POPPA’s Retiree Program.
   Go to:
Write: POPPA, Inc, Bill Genêt, Director, 26 Broadway, Room 1640, New York, NY 10004-1898, Phone: 212-298-9111.