VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Anger, sadness and tension have plagued our country throughout 2020.
Police departments around the nation have been under scrutiny and Virginia Beach Union President Brian Luciano said officers are feeling the pressure.
News 3 checked in with the Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association about a program aimed to help officers who may be struggling. “I think everybody realizes and knows how difficult 2020 was for everyone,” said Luciano.
He worries about the mental impacts the current conditions are having on officers around the country.
“It's difficult when you see your profession vilified in the media constantly and then politicians coming out against you constantly and seemingly you're being blamed for every ill in society,” said Luciano. He said it can be tough for officers who are just trying to come to work and do their jobs.
The Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association has a program set up with Licensed Clinical Social Worker Norm Stein to give officers an outlet to express their feelings freely.
He said Stein does not report to the city. “Not only in our department, but across the country lot of times officers won't seek help because they feel that it's a sign of weakness,” said Luciano, “They are worried their department will find out about it and they may be taken off the street, that usually puts up roadblocks for them for seeking help.”
Over the past six years, Stein said he's held hundreds of sessions and said he would like to see more officers.
“They do a great job of taking care of everybody else. I don't think they do a great job of taking care of themselves,” said Stein.
He said all first responders are dealing with a lot right now.
“Your EMT’S, police they're under this incredible amount of stress and it's just a given that they will show up, day in and day out,” said Stein, “I believe they have one of the most difficult jobs out there when everything is going well in the world.”
“Officers, not only in Virginia Beach, and not only the members of the Police Union but officers everywhere need to understand that it's okay to ask for help,” said Luciano.