As part of World Suicide Prevention Day last week and consultations arising from the Green Paper on Police Reality in Quebec, the Federation of Municipal Police Officers of Quebec (FPMQ) is calling for the creation of a 24/7, one-stop psychological support service for police officers and all emergency responders in Quebec.
"All police officers in Quebec, as well as all emergency responders, are entitled to a psychological support service tailored to our needs. Our particular reality is that the government needs to set up a service. The goal of all must be to take care of the people behind the uniform, we must work together in this direction," François Lemay, President of the FPMQ said to The Suburban.
According to Lemay, in order to develop a psychological support service for all police officers and other emergency responders in Quebec, it would be wise to draw inspiration from the model developed by the Montreal Police Service (SPVM).
Since the 1990s, the SPVM has hired five psychologists to meet the needs of police officers. The service is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Officers simply need to call for support. In addition, periodic support and follow-up are provided to certain groups of police officers whose work is considered to be more sensitive by nature, such as investigators working on sexual exploitation cases. The great strength of the system in this city is that it is worked equally between police services and the Montreal Police Brotherhood (FPPM), which increases police officers’ sense of confidence in the service, as confidentiality is assured to them.
The services that are currently being provided for police officers in other sectors of the province are not necessarily specialized in dealing with police-related issues. As a result, police officers are not receiving the psychological support that they need by experienced professionals who they require to be specifically experienced in treating patients who work in their field.
"The nature of police work is a fantasy for someone who is not familiar with the profession. One can understand that these are stories that they usually just see in the movies. The police will reach out to them for help, but they do not recognize themselves in the service provided." Lemay said in a statement.
Lemay wants services which reflect the SPVM's model to be applied province wide. Both the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) adopted the SPVM's model as it is highly praised for its effectiveness.
Lemay hopes to see these services made available to all frontline intervention workers in Quebec, including police officers, firefighters, ambulance service workers and 911 call center employees. "This is not an expense, it is an investment to take care of the men and women behind the uniforms." Lemay said to The Suburban. "This is not something to leave up to chance, it is essential."