The Birmingham Police Department is working on launching a wellness program for its staff and officers.

The Birmingham Police Department is working on launching a wellness program for its staff and officers.

Photo provided by The Birmingham Police Department

Birmingham Police Department prioritizes wellness

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 9, 2024


BIRMINGHAM — The Birmingham Police Department is taking steps toward reducing stress-related incidents, on-duty injuries and medical retirements, as well as preventing officer suicides, through a new wellness program. They are at the final stages of developing the program aimed to benefit all Birmingham police officers, staff and their families, according to the department.

Through an app called Cordico, resources will be easily accessible. The app is confidential, so everything someone is reading or searching is private.

“The Cordico app for mental wellness will be very beneficial for the department staff and their families,” Community Resource Officer Gina Moody said via email. “Having an outlet at your fingertips that can provide resources and in-the-moment crisis support could truly save a life, and has for other agencies.”

Birmingham Police Chief Scott Grewe said the purpose of the app is to make people comfortable with the idea of reaching out to available resources for help, such as a peer support team, certified counselors, counseling centers and other resources offered by the city.

“Our goal is to make sure that our staff live a long healthy life and that we can provide them with the resources that they need to do that. And by doing that, we also help ensure that they are in the best possible condition for us here at work to perform the duties that they need to perform for us,” Grewe said.

According to a recent Boston University study, 116 police officers died by suicide while 113 died in the line of duty in 2020. In 2021, the number or officers dying by suicide rose to 150. This study states that police officers are more likely to die from suicide than in the line of duty.

“It was recognized that not only are officers on the front line dealing with critical incidents, those situations also impact our dispatchers who take the call, our detectives who need to do any followup investigation, as well as our clerical team who review all documents that come in for reporting purposes,” Moody said via email.

Since police staff and officers are regularly exposed to traumatic events, it can negatively impact them mentally and emotionally.

“Our staff needed a way to process some of the circumstances we encounter through positive outlets which may include utilizing a Peer Support team or counseling service. Physical wellness is also essential for first responders. Not only can the career of a first responder be physically demanding, stress can also impact physical health,” Moody said via email. “Chief Grewe is encouraging department personnel to improve and address any mental health and physical wellness concerns before they carry over from our jobs into our personal lives, potentially impacting our family and others as well.”

Wellness within police departments has become a movement across the country, and departments from all over are addressing the needs of their staff.

“Fortunately, a lot of other agencies are beginning to see the benefits in supporting their staff with mental health and physical wellness resources,” Moody said via email. “Many of our surrounding communities provide Peer Support teams that focus on critical incident debriefing and crisis outreach, along with supplying physical wellness resources such as an on-site workout facility or discount at a local fitness center.”