Sheriff shares his own trauma to encourage other LEOs to seek help
Sheriff Jay Armbrister is setting an example for his employees by opening up about his own struggles
By Suzie Ziegler
LAWRENCE, Kan. — When it comes to officer mental health, Sheriff Jay Armbrister knows that police leaders need to walk the walk. That’s why he’s setting an example to encourage other law enforcement officers to seek help, KSN reported.
Through his agency’s peer support program, Armbrister is sharing his trauma from a career in law enforcement. One event in particular – a deadly apartment fire – has stuck with him.
“I didn’t realize how deeply [it was] weighing on me,” Armbrister told KSN. “There were people jumping out of windows and a lady with a broken back, and we’re trying to help them, and this place is just engulfed in flames.”
Armbrister reached his breaking point when he had to tell his best friend that his son had died, reported KSN.
“I realized that I didn’t really care if I lived or died anymore,” Armbrister told KSN. “My wife, at one point, finally said, ‘I’m just afraid I’m going to come home some day and you’re not going to be here.’”
Since he became sheriff last year, the Peer Support Program at the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has tripled, reported KSN. The group is comprised of both uniformed and civilian volunteers who have been completed 40 hours of trauma training. Armbrister has also added a free therapy program that’s open to all 186 employees.
Now, Armbrister is seeing a therapist twice a week and is encouraging his employees to seek help too. Under the department’s free therapy program, a licensed therapist is available two hours per week by appointment, according to the report.