GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Green Bay Police are establishing new initiatives to improve the mental and physical wellness for officers.
Health experts say exercising and fitness training helps decompress and takes your mind off what's going on in the world.
"It's actually my top way to de-stress, and kind of manage myself, and make sure that I'm staying healthy and feeling well, and able to perform my job to the best of my ability," Lt. Erin Bloch said.
"Wellness for different people means different things," Chief of Police Chris Davis said.
Now, for one hour each week, on-duty officers can work out in the organization's fitness center.
"It helps a lot," Bloch said. "I mean, we are basically tactical athletes for lack of better terms."
The police department also recently launched a wellness app for officers and their families.
When the app is open, they can click on a video message from the chief. Included in the message, the chief says, "Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to keeping our communities safe."
The app provides self-assessments and other tools to improve mental health.
"So, if you're kind of feeling down and out, and you're wondering, you know, 'Am I struggling with depression right now?' Or, 'do I maybe have an alcohol problem? I seem to be drinking a lot more lately,' you can take some confidential self-assessments and see where you're at," Bloch said.
Davis says the community will have better police service when officers are in a good mental state.
"We've really come to the realization over the last several years of how important it is to take care of the people who go out and protect our communities," Davis said. "And so, you know, when I started in this line of work, the coping mechanisms that police officers tended to use for the stress of their profession were not very healthy."
In some instances, however, officers take their own lives.
According to a non-profit called First H.E.L.P., last year, 193 first reponders died by suicide. 159 of those first responders were people in law enforcement.
"The stat's out there that officers are more likely to take their own lives than they are to die in the line of duty," Bloch said.
Bloch says the purpose of enhancing police wellness is to prevent suicide altogether.
"We really want to create a culture of wellness," Bloch said. "Instead of just giving people tips and things that they can do to stay well, we really want to make it a culture here and incorporate it."