New program customizes mental health help for Kent Co. officers

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the first time, law enforcement officers in Kent County are getting access to mental health resources specifically designed to help them manage stress.

The Op5 pilot program launched in February. There was so much interest that organizers had to put a cap on how many officers and deputies could take part in that program.

The job of a law enforcement officer includes some routine, but also unpredictability and unfathomable violence.

“There’s a bell that rings that’s the trigger and usually it’s the brain all of a sudden has hit its max and you’re going to react,” explained Joel Robertson, the doctor behind the program and the CEO of Robertson Health, a series of companies that provide predictive medical research.

The Op5 program is centered around each individual, getting to the root of officers’ stress and teaching them how to handle it so it doesn’t reach a boiling point.

“We sat down with both (Grand Rapids Police Department) Chief (David) Rahinsky and (Kent County) Sheriff (Lawrence) Stelma and I said, ‘Hey, look, this is what I do. I do this in the corporate world it increases performance. I do it in professional athletes. I think this could work with law enforcement,” Robertson said.

“I think that this is a program and the type of training that police officers across the nation are going to be exploring in the very near future,” Kent County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Kelley said.

Kelley was one of dozens of law enforcement officers who filled out the physiological questionnaire which dives into genetics, family dynamics and how they respond in certain situations and then provides a personalized plan.

It’s an eye-opening and constructive program for law enforcement amidst a climate of violence across the country.

“It was a very interesting journey,” Kelley said. “There were certain triggers that were happening within my lifestyle that I really didn’t realize.”

“The bulk of my trigger points came at home which then rounded out and came back into a work setting because you spend a day or an afternoon arguing at home it’s going to have a negative effect,” GRPD Lt. Geoff Collard said.

That pilot program ended in May. A total of 45 law enforcement officers from GRPD and the sheriff’s office participated. Plans are in the works for a full launch for both departments in the next few months.

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