Chief Richard Biehl said the goal is to make sure his officers are healthy — both physically and mentally — after responding to the mass shooting.
“They saw bodies all over the place, people suffering, bleeding in crisis,” he said. “Just because we put a badge on doesn’t make us invincible.”
He admitted, however, there are some officers who think otherwise.
“‘I can handle anything. When people need help, that’s when I show up! I’m the helper, I don’t need help.’ All flawed ways of thinking,” Biehl explained.
The classroom curriculum is designed to address the long-term mental hurt and pain of first responders.
>> RELATED: 6 months after Oregon District shooting: ‘We are healing together’
Biehl and others involved in the program hope that the classes will fight stigmas against mental illness and mental health issues.
“To see it as an injury, just like a broken arm or a broken leg. There’s nothing shameful about it,” said Dr. Randon Welton, one of the class presents and a member of WSU’s psychiatry department. “It will decrease your function for a while, but with proper care and proper treatment, you can return back to your normal function.”
Currently, the Dayton Police Department is paying for the classes. But federal dollars could soon be used to increase mental health training.
That’s thanks to a bill, co-sponsored by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, that’s finding bipartisan support.
>> RELATED: PHOTOS: Oregon District shows strength, resilience and determination 6 months after mass shooting
The proposal would help local officers better understand how to respond, interact and deescalate situations with people who show signs of mental illness.
Biehl said bottom line he wants to see police officers better recognize the signs of mental distress and know where to go to get help healing those mental wounds.
>> Dayton officers who stopped Oregon District shooter honored
>> Oregon District Shooing: Remembering the Victims
>> Oregon District shooting: 'Every day is a struggle,' survivor says 6 months later