CPD launches Officer Support System pilot program aimed at preventing suicides, situations involving excessive force

CHICAGO (WLS) -- While historically, there's been a stigma attached to seeking mental health help, a new Chicago Police Department program hopes to change that and prevent officers from bad outcomes.

"The culture and climate about law enforcement being this hardened shell is actually changing," said Deputy Supt. Barbara West.

CPD launched a pilot program called the Officer Support System (OSS).

It's a data-driven program to proactively help supervisors identify officers who may need support and services.

OSS was developed with the help of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab.

"The system itself is a pointer system, it says that this person is more likely in need help than others in the department," said Maggie Goodrich, from the University of Chicago's Crime Lab.

It is based on data collected every day by the department about an officer's history of on and off duty complaints. If an officer is identified as someone who needs help, their immediate supervisor is notified.

"It's the supervisor's job to spend time one-on-one with the officer to better understand what's going on with that officer, maybe there is something going on at home that isn't part of the data," Goodrich said.

It is then up to the supervisor to get the officer some help.

"They could be referred to training, they could be referred to counseling, they could be referred to outside resources we have identified and pre-vetted," West said.

The goal is to prevent suicides or situations involving excessive force.

The pilot program will be launched at the 5th District. Two years ago, the South Side district lost two officers to suicide.

The plan is to test the pilot program in District 5 for the next few months, then expand it to all districts in 2021.
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