In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara speak with Captain Dave Betz of the Chelsea Police Department and coping with the loss of his son to suicide.
Dave, a Capitan at Chelsea Police Department has served as a police officer for over 36 years. 35 of them with Chelsea Police Department. Dave speaks about his years of service, and the traumas on the job. Betz, shares how the department has embraced mental health wellness. Training, has taught the officers to compartmentalize the cumulative trauma from the calls they roll up on, over the years not dealing with them, begins to effect you.
On February 22nd 2017, Dave received a call his son didn’t show up for work. Dave speaks candidly about the day he found his son, David Betz III. Who had died by suicide after serving as a police officer for 4 years. Finding Dave III and the traumas that caused him, along with bringing so many up to the forefront of his memory. This was an eye opening event for the department as suicide touched their blue family. Betz wants officers and their families to know it’s ok to “have a check up from the neck up” and that mental health needs to be checked everyday. Ask the hard questions.
After Dave III passed away, something had to change, it sparked him to make changes. That is how he crossed paths with Karen from 1st HELP (at that time Blue HELP). They were at a state legislature meeting with another family of police suicide to make the change within their state together.
Since then his voice and reach has grown larger, and he as he stated since David couldn’t continue to be a cop so he will and bring change to the policing world.
He first created a blue suicide awareness ribbon to recognize that cop suicides do happen and it needs to be talked about. Then with his city, they created stickers and street signs that have the 988 number along with the police badge resting in hands. So it is out there to the public, that everyone is in this together and it is ok to reach out for help.
Lastly, the mental health Miranda. Which applies to everyone, not just police officers or first responders. We all need to stop and remember we all have the right to go on living.
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