CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced Tuesday that CPD would be adding more counselors for officers after a difficult year that saw four officers killed in the line of duty and four officers who died by suicide.
Johnson and his command staff relieved 5th District officers of the grim task of recovering the bodies of two fellow officers that had been struck by a train while pursuing a suspect.
"Something like that isn't easy, but I looked at it as we had to help those officers get close to God," he said.
Johnson, his first deputy and the six chiefs who did the recovery will receive group counseling Wednesday at CPD headquarters with therapists from their employee assistance program.
"From myself on down, we can't ask these officers to do things that we wouldn't do," Johnson said.
Officers seem to be following Johnson's lead in recent weeks with more reaching out for help from EAP counselors and the six CPD chaplains. CPD plans to add six more EAP counselors and other forms of support in light of increased demand.
Peer support volunteers like officer Joanne Cardinale have also been getting more calls.
"They may be having nightmares. They may, you know, they don't feel comfortable talking to their spouse because they don't want them to worry about them. And a lot of police officers don't want to burden other people so they internalize it," she said. "We've been where they are. We understand. And a lot of officers, I think, feel comfortable speaking to another officer about their issues."
Officer Kimberly Lewis-Davis, who serves as one of CPD's chaplains, said it can weigh on officers to see parts of society that nobody ever would see. If officers have difficulty seeing past that darkness, she wants them to know there's always someone there to talk them through it.
"There is hope," she said. "It's not over."
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES FOR ANYONE IN NEED
If you feel suicidal or you're worried about someone you know, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by messaging TALK to 741741. Police officers can text the word BLUE to 741741.
For more information, visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago: 1-833-NAMI-CHI (1-833-626-4244) or 312-563-0445
NAMI CHI will expand hours to cover nights and weekends beginning in January 2019.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES FOR CHICAGO POLICE EMPLOYEES IN NEED
Chicago Police Employee Assistance Program
Professional Counseling: 312-743-0378
Chicago Police Peer Support: 312-672-9973