The Montgomery County Medical Examiner recently ruled police officer Thomas “T.J.” Bomba’s death a suicide. Records show Bomba died from” self-inflicted” injuries. Officer Bomba was found shot at a parking garage located at Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street in Silver Spring. His funeral was held in Gaithersburg. Bomba is survived by his wife and two children.
His tragic death has prompted Montgomery County Police Department to reiterate their established programs on stress management and peer support.
According to a new study done by the Addiction Center, police officers are at a higher risk of suicide than any other profession. Statistics stated law enforcement with 17 out of 100,000 police officers committing suicide – that’s 70% higher than the average population. With suicide rates at an all time high, The Wash took to find out if there are programs for suicide prevention for police officers.
The Wash caught up with Sergeant Ronald Butts, who is a 24-year veteran.
“I have been running it (the program) off and on for the last 20 years, but more on these days with mental health risks rising,” Sergeant Butts said.
The Stress Management Team is a program that has two psychologists on the team who are well versed and equipped to handle stress that applies directly to officers in the field. The program provides free and confidential counseling services to Montgomery County law enforcement.
The two professional psychologists have been specifically trained to handle trauma and stress. Officers have access to both psychologists and can set up appointments any time.
The Stress Management team also has a peer support team. It is a direct line where an officer can speak to a peer. The peer support team line is confidential. Officers can speak to peers without judgement.
Sergeant Ronald Butts stated this program is essential to law enforcement and the most impactful.
“Along with seeking professional psychological help an officer has a chance to talk to someone who is a peer and has a similar experience and can easily relate to you. Being in the field and being able to talk to a peer or a psychologist it is extremely beneficial to an officer’s mental health,” Sergeant Butts said.
The stress management and peer support teams are easily accessible programs offered to officers to directly help mental health. The ultimate goal of keeping officers healthy and prevent suicide is the priority of these programs.
Officers and their families are encouraged to check in when it comes to their mental health.
“We have a unit not only designated to Officers, but their families as well as an officer’s mental health also directly affects their family,” Media Representative of Montgomery County Blanca Kling said.
The stress management team program allows for Officers to be able to have a space to articulate their trauma, but also involve their families.
“Officers use this stress management outlet and it helps a lot of our officers here in Montgomery County,” Sergeant Butts concluded.