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Identifying a need
After a series of police suicides from 1996 to 1998, community leaders in New Jersey believed that law enforcement professionals needed a confidential, safe outlet where they could talk to peers who could understand and provide support without judgment.
Implementing a solution
In 1998, the Department of Personnel, mandated by P.L. 1998, c. 149, established a statewide “law enforcement officer crisis intervention services” hotline. In 2000, the Department of Personnel contracted with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC) to provide crisis intervention services to the law enforcement community. As a result, RBHS developed the COP2COP program, which is the first program of its kind in the nation to focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for law enforcement officers. The program is supported by the Body Armor Replacement Fund.
Making a difference
This New Jersey law has helped COP2COP become an essential program for law enforcement officers, helping to avert more than 300 suicides in its nearly 20 years of existence. Though statistics have not been compiled nationally, most law enforcement experts believe the police suicide rate is higher than those of the general population, but because suicides among police officers are often reported as accidents or met with official silence, definitive numbers are hard to come by.