NYLEAP (New York Law Enforcement Assistance Program) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our services are offered at no charge to individuals who serve as first responders (i.e. law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, correction officers, and dispatchers). NYLEAP was created by peers for peers and after serving over 40 years combined as first responders, it became apparent that there is a huge void when it comes to our law enforcement officers and all first responders mental health. The statistics are growing at alarming rates when it comes to deaths by suicide, PTSD, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions caused by the day to day stress and trauma that comes along with doing the job. In 2018, the number of reported deaths by suicide in law enforcement alone outnumbered the line of duty deaths and that number does not include suicide attempts.
The mission of NYLEAP is to improve the mental health of all law enforcement officers, and first responders which will result in the reduction of divorce, alcohol and controlled substance abuse, PTSD, cumulative stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and suicide. NYLEAP will help agencies and their first responders recognize the stress signs and symptoms before things become unmanageable and diminish the alarming statistics by educating and training our first responders to help them live healthier and happier lives. This mission will not only help our law enforcement officers and first responders with their personal lives, but will make them more productive, and affective at work. This positive result will then improve the relationships within their communities and would ultimately create cost savings for their respected departments.
Our goal is to provide training throughout New York State for officers and all first responders to become peer trained and be able to assist within their own agencies and throughout the state when called upon. We look to provide the effective peer-based Post Critical Incident Seminars (PCIS) in conjunction with other LEAP programs (SC, NC, VA, WV, OH, OK, OR, AR, TX) throughout the country. The PCIS provides education on trauma, patterns of resolution, and field-tested coping strategies to promote recovery and resilience. Peer support is a critical element of the PCIS, promoting normalization and recovery. This format was originated with the FBI in 1985 and is now used by other LEAP programs, SCLEAP (South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program) has been successfully hosting the PCIS since 2000. All first responders who have been involved in a critical incident or exposed to trauma during their career, should be given the opportunity to attend the PCIS at no cost to them. The experiential seminar creates a safe environment for the first responders to discuss their trauma and work through it in a healthy atmosphere amongst peers and clinicians.
NYLEAP will be available to be called upon to host Post Critical Incident Stress Debriefings when needed, by having trained peers who can respond in their geographical area. NYLEAP will provide the training to the peers for group crisis and individual crisis. NYLEAP will also provide annual training and in-service training for current peers. The goal is to have several peers in each agency making the utilization of peers more commonplace, and ultimately breaking the stigma attached to seeking help.
A peer support team is a vital part in helping our law enforcement officers and first responders deal with the daily stress, and individual or group crisis that they may experience during their career. We live in a society where mental health comes along with many stigmas, and it is even more apparent in the first responder community. We have a duty to work to break the stigma and provide much needed resources to those who dedicate their lives helping others. By having the opportunity to provide the PCIS to first responders in NY, we will be in many cases restoring their hope and helping them to choose life. #breakthestigma