PISCATAWAY – Union County will become the first county in New Jersey to include suicide prevention training for all of its law enforcement officers.
Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow recently announced that the approximately 2,000 officers in all law enforcement agencies throughout the county will receive suicide prevention training provided by the Cop2Cop program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). The training is expected to begin within the next couple of months.
“If this vital program can save just one life, then we’ve accomplished our goal,” Romankow said. “Just as officers place the safety of the public as their highest priority, we place the safety of our officers as our highest priority.”
The county-wide training project was developed in a collaborative effort among the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, the Union County Prosecutor and Cop2Cop.
Cop2Cop’s suicide prevention training is based on the “Be Your Brother’s Keeper” model, teaching officers how to help their fellow officers who exhibit symptoms related to stress, depression, irritability and suicidal tendencies.
Cherie Castellano, Cop2Cop director, noted the significance of this announcement. “This validates all the invaluable support and motivation we’ve received from the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, our elected officials and our law enforcement partners in our first 10 years,” she said. “In addition, the inclusion of this training is a further tribute to the dedicated individuals at Cop2Cop whose commitments and achievements in assisting our law enforcement officers have already led to our training of more than 12,000 officers throughout the state. Hopefully, Union County’s model for training will lead to training for the balance of New Jersey’s 50,000 officers.”
Cop2Cop is managed by UMDNJ-University Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC) in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Human Services. It received the highest score ever from the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) when it first was certified by the AAS in 2002. Cop2Cop was re-certified in 2005 and 2010 and remains the only AAS-certified police helpline.
The Cop2Cop helpline (1-866-COP-2COP) is staffed by retired police officers who are licensed clinical social workers, known as cop clinicians, and specially trained mental health professionals, along with volunteer retired officers who are trained as peer supporters. The Cop2Cop helpline provides peer and clinical support services; clinical assessments; referrals; and critical incident stress management to law enforcement officers and their families.
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