Genesee County sheriff partnering with mental health professional to help deputies

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Communities across the country are demanding reform of their local police agencies.

That looks different in every community. The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office is trying something new by partnering with a mental health expert.

Nearly 300 people work at the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office -- some for decades and some for a handful of years. The sheriff now is able to request psychological evaluations to make sure they’re the best they can be.

They’re called to shootings, stabbings, crashes, overdoses, domestic assaults -- violent situations that their community needs them to handle.

“When you go to those scenes, you leave a piece of your flesh behind,” Swanson said. “You can’t unsee those, you can’t unhear those, you can’t un-smell them.”

Knowing the mental toll the job can take every day, he wanted to partner with Harold Love, who spent 25 years with Michigan State Police and then became a mental health clinician. In the last seven years of his practice, Love has worked with agencies across Southeast Michigan to make sure officers are mentally fit for duty.

When an officer is in trouble, Love is there to check in

“An agency has to have an objective reason that they can articulate that warrants questioning a person’s ability to safely and effectively do their job ... as it relates to their mental, emotional, psychological fitness,” Love said.

The partnership just became official, so anyone that might be going through a tough time or behaving out of character will work with Love. The goal is helping the person recognize and realize what they’re going through and then give them the tools to handle it

“Police officers won’t talk to just anybody. We have to be proactive in breaking down that stigma so that we realize this is something that we all need,” Love said.

He will be working with a fellow former police officer to conduct these evaluations when asked. His services, which are covered by taxpayer dollars, cost $1,250 per evaluation.

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