Inaugural Kentucky Post-Critical Incident Seminar “Outstanding” success
“PCIS works,” an anonymous officer said. “PCIS saved a life. That life is mine. I had thoughts of suicide prior to coming here and because of the PCIS, I now have reasons to live.”
The Department of Criminal Justice Training conducted its first Kentucky Post-Critical Incident Seminar recently, and DOCJT Criminal Investigation Branch Manager Travis Tennill said it was an “outstanding" success.
PCIS is a three-day seminar modeled after highly-successful programs developed by the FBI and South Carolina Law Enforcement. These seminars are led by mental-health professionals trained to work with peace officers, and driven by a team of law enforcement peers who have experienced their own critical incident and received training in Critical Incident Stress Management.
The mental-health professionals offer blocks of instruction about grief, relationships, medications and stress management. Additional one-on-one therapy is available for those with an identified need. Peer law enforcement team members instill trust, aid in breaking down stigma and lead to officers who typically would not seek help getting the assistance they need and deserve.
“We had several officers receive therapy that proved to be very effective,” Tennill said. “I received texts and emails from participants the morning after we finished about how much better they slept and that they did not have the usual ‘demons’ show up in their dreams. I also saw friendships form which will serve as support systems for years to come.”
DOCJT staff were assisted by seasoned PCIS professionals from South Carolina, Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee, who helped make this first seminar successful. Training-team members from Kentucky also assisted with the program – including three therapy dogs – to round out the team of more than 30, Tennill said. Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton (pictured at top) and Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley also greeted PCIS participants to open the seminar.
“The multi-agency/state training team worked out very well,” Tennill said. “Some of them had never worked together before but were veterans to the PCIS model, which allowed us to be very successful. I can't say enough good things about the mental health professionals and peers who traveled many hours to be here, and their agencies for allowing them time away from their primary duties to aid in our success.”
Post-traumatic stress is the body’s normal reaction to an abnormal event. A critical goal of the PCIS program is normalization of the attendee’s experience. Peer-team members and mental-health professionals work to validate officers’ experiences, offer therapies and provide peace.
Attending PCIS provides a unique opportunity for attendees to talk about their story and receive resources to help them move beyond their event or events. Mental-health professionals leading the program are trained to understand the law-enforcement culture, allowing for specific and appropriate responses oftentimes not found in general counseling practices.
“I also want to note how courageous our participants were in sharing their stories,” Tennill said. “Some of them had never shared their stories openly prior to the PCIS. They opened their minds and hearts to the training team, which allowed us to tailor our efforts to their specific needs and give them the help that they needed. They are all heroes.”
The next Kentucky PCIS program will be offered in March. To register, visit https://www.kypcis.com/register. For questions about the program, please call (844) 5KY-PCIS.