TORONTO – Toronto Police Services say they will be reconvening a committee meant to tackle PTSD, but that decision only came after an inquiry by Global News and after months of inactivity.
In October, the Toronto Police Board agreed to create a mental health committee, with Heidi Rogers, whose husband Richard Rogers, a 24-year veteran of the police force, committed suicide in last July. But after meeting once in November, they haven’t met again.
“They believe they are already doing things and they are not. It’s ridiculous,” said Rogers.
When Global News requested an interview with Toronto Police Board Chair Alok Mukherjee April 1, we were told he’d be available over a week later. He became “unavailable” and other potential interview days were postponed.
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On the day Toronto Police were informed Heidi Roger’s story would air, she received an email from Mukherjee stating they would schedule a committee meeting.
Police board member and Councillor Shelley Carroll said she will make the issue a priority, and will be asking for more information from the newly appointed Chief Mark Saunders.
“You have to check in and say, what is our standard today and how well are we meeting this need?” said Carroll.
Rogers says her husband suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and killed himself last July after dealing with the mental illness for years.
She now relies on her loyal Labrador Bailey who is a link to her husband, Richard. That day, for the first time ever, Bailey failed to meet Heidi at the front door.
“I called out. No dog. Took a couple steps, then I saw him, but the dog was at his feet. He’d stayed with him the whole time. It’s hard,” Rogers said wiping tears from her eyes. “He had more compassion as a dog than they did as people.”
The people she is referring to are members of the Toronto Police department, who Heidi believes, contributed to her husband’s sense of desperation.
She said when Rogers opened up at work about his PTSD, instead of helping him, peers and supervisors mocked and ostracized him.
Looking back, she found that the department failed to act on seven out of nine of its own mental health policies.
Toronto police declined to comment on how Rogers was allegedly treated.
Meanwhile, a PTSD expert said peer support is critical.
“When that peer support isn’t there and there’s judgment or shaming or embarrassing someone, I think that contributes to the culture of silence,” said Jeff Morley, a registered psychologist.
As for Heidi, she said she is speaking up for those who are still suffering.
“No family member should lose someone in this day and age when help is available.”