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Regina police to hire in-house psychologist for officers’ mental health

Regina police chief Evan Bray says officers' mental health will be a top priority for the force over the next four years.
Regina police chief Evan Bray says officers' mental health will be a top priority for the force over the next four years. Adrian Raaber/Global News

Violent, traumatic and tragic—three words Regina’s police chief Evan Bray used to describe the “ugly situations” that officers deal with in the community.

“People often ask me what keeps me awake at night. I think it is the wellness of our members I worry about the most,” Bray told Global News during a year-end interview in December.

This past year, Bray said an increase in violent crimes fueled by guns and crystal meth has been taxing on his officers.

READ MORE: Rise of crystal meth use in Saskatchewan a crisis: conference

“You can’t constantly deal with those types of issues day in and day out without having some sort of extra support and resiliency and focused attention on your well-being,” he said. “That’s physical well-being and that’s also got to be mental well-being.”

Over the next four years, Regina Police Service (RPS) is making the well-being of its 600-plus members a top priority in its strategic plan. Part of that strategy includes hiring a full-time in-house psychologist.

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According to the job posting that went up at the start of January, the psychologist will oversee RPS’ mental health strategy, perform psychological assessments for new recruits and work with members in high stress units.

Chief Bray said that includes regular check-ins with all staff and compassion-fatigue training.

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“You start out at this job wanting to save the world and make a difference,” Bray said. “Day in and day out you’re dealing with challenging issues and we have to find ways to keep people fresh, keep people’s compassion high.”

The psychologist posting stated: “If a qualified applicant is not found within the Regina Police Service, this vacancy shall be open to qualified applicants of other City Departments and the general public.”

The job will be funded through the 2020 police budget.