Bill to help law enforcement deal with personal trauma passes House committee

02/06/2018 02:51 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would provide help to law enforcement personnel trying to cope with serious and tragic events was passed unanimously by the House Standing Committee on appropriations and Revenue.

House Bill 68, sponsored by Rep. Ken Fleming, R-Louisville, would require the Department of Criminal Justice Training to provide a law enforcement professional development and wellness program; outline standards for a program; require the program to be confidential, and create a fund for the program’s administration.

The funding would come out of the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund (KLEPF), and would require no additional general revenue dollars.

Department of Criminal Justice Training Branch Manager Travis Tennill, a retired Kentucky State Police sergeant, pointed out to committee members that 140 police officers committed suicide in 2017, compared to 139 that were killed in all other facets of their jobs, according to The Badge of Life, a non-profit organization that tracks law enforcement deaths.

Tennill said that police officers deal with a lot of traumatic events which bring about a lot of emotional baggage with the job.

Something that Tennill can speak first hand about.

“Early in my career with the Kentucky State Police, I was involved in a fatal shooting,” Tennill said. “The State Police did a great job training me to deal with the event and I was very successful, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened afterwards.”

After 20 years, Tennill went to South Carolina to initially observe a Post-Critical Incident Seminar (PCIS), before taking part in the program after officials learned he had been involved in a critical incident.

“For the first time in 20 years after my event, I sat down with a mental health specialist and talked about my event,” Tennill said. “During that conversation, he offered some therapy for me.”

The PCIS program has a family component as well.

“The participants have classes on relationships because we know that law enforcement officers have a very high rate of divorce, so we understand the importance of the spousal connection and significant others,” Tennill said. “The spouses and significant others of these officers are invited to come and sit at the table with these officers.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.