INDIANAPOLIS — “Officers are more stressed now than they ever have been,” Lt. Ron Brezik with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said. “It’s really rough in the police profession.”
During the nationwide protests that took place in 2020 against police brutality, Brezik explained, "A lot of those officers were extremely emotional about all that stuff. Having rocks, bottles and all that stuff thrown at you, being called every name in the book and these guys are like, what, I'm trying to help you guys?"
Brezik said it only added to the increasing stress police officers feel on a daily basis.
“Am I doing the right thing? Am I going to be second guessed and third guessed and fourth guessed by people on what I’m doing here? Should I hesitate?" Brezik asked. "And if I hesitate, am I going to get myself hurt or killed? And what does that do to my family? So they start stressing about their families.”
In Indianapolis, alone, Lt. Brezik added how the last three months in particular have been really bad. "A lot of different runs.”
In April, IMPD responded to the mass shooting at a west side Fedex facility where eight people were killed. And just this past weekend, a female officer was shot on the northwest side. Then, another officer was involved in a shooting Monday morning while responding to a domestic violence call.
“You can’t continue to go and be involved in stressful situations day after day after day and have it not affect you in some way,” Brezik stressed.
It makes the department's POST team, which stands for Police Officers Support Team, so critical.
“Back in the past, when you would be involved in an incident and things like that, like, I was involved in a critical incident, and we were basically told by our supervisors just rub some dirt on it, you’ll be OK and get back out there, we need you to take runs,” he said. “And that started taking a toll and they found that out.”
The POST team is comprised of fellow IMPD active duty officers, who work on a variety of shifts.
It’s a volunteer program where officers can apply for the position, go through a hiring process that includes psychological testing, and are tasked with responding to traumatic scenes to check in with officers and make sure they’re mentally well.
“Anytime a supervisor or fellow officer or anybody really that sees an officer that seems to be struggling," Lt. Brezik described.
Recognizing that police especially, don’t often show weakness, if they don’t open up to someone, the repercussions could be deadly.
"In 2020, there are over twice as many officers who have committed suicide than have been killed in the line of duty. And the line of duty deaths are going sky high right now. Police officers are being shot at an alarming rate. But it’s still not catching up with police suicide rate. So it’s something that has to be, it’s an epidemic levels, and so it has to be dealt with,” Brezik said.
The better state officers are in, the better they can protect and serve.