By: Katie Sobiech
Have you ever thought of what life must be like for police officers or those involved in our safety forces,including fire and communications? How do they cope with the traumatic things they see and experience?
Where do they go for help?
The Summit County Safety Forces Chaplaincy Center (SCSFCC), once known as Furnace Street Mission, is a non-profit that warmly welcomes local safety forces, providing free, confidential counseling and debriefing services for First Responders.
“The confidential services are for the people who maintain our safety and are exposed to and take the hits doing things that civilians really shouldn’t do, and don’t want to do,” Robert Denton PhD, LISW, Executive Director at Safety Forces Chaplaincy Center, shared.
“We focus on providing a variety of material and other services, particularly mental health services for safety forces,” he continued.
SCSFCC works hand-in-hand with their neighbors at Victim’s Assistance, who provide counseling and help to those affected by crime and tragic events.
A Great Need
Throughout the years, Denton has seen a lot. Statistics prove that these brave men and women do need help from time to time.
Denton shared what those involved struggle with: “Law enforcement has about 3 times the substance abuse problems and marital/domestic (abuse). It has about 5 times the alcohol problems, 6 times the anxiety problems and the one that’s really spooky – 10 times the depression problems than any other profession.”
“It comes from constantly being in a situation that goes from boredom to pure adrenaline rush, taking chances where you really don’t know if you’re going to come home off of a shift. And it’s not just doing it for a year or two, it’s 25 years. Do you know what that does?” he continued.
It not only affects the officers, but in many cases puts immense stress on the family. Soon the problems at work because problems at home.
“When those two go south you really have some situations that aren’t good for the human being,” Denton said.
On top of it affecting the officers’ well-being and their families, it’s also not a good investment for the city to just brush off these issues.
Denton says that close to half a million dollars is invested in an officer by the time he or she is on the streets for just 2 years.
Dealing with Difficult Issues
Most people cannot even begin to comprehend the kinds of things those involved in the safety forces experience.
Every day is a reminder that they need these services.
Captain Sylvia Trundle shares her heart, “In light of Officer Russ Long’s death on August 15th, it was a sobering reminder as to why we need the Chaplaincy Center for our safety forces.”
She noted that many in the department were either working the 3-11p.m. shift with Officer Russ on that tragic day, or responded to the scene of the accident.
“There is no doubt that all of us could have used debriefing services after that horrific incident was branded into our hearts and minds,” Trundle said.
Helping Safety Forces Cope
With the amount of losses that they endure, it is important for those involved in the safety of our city to just unwind and get their mind off of things.
“We do fun things,” Denton made sure to add.
SCSFCC has holiday parties and activities for those who would like to attend, freeing their minds of daily worries.
One of them, Dog n’ Suds, their key fundraiser for the year, is September 12th. The Akron Fire Department will have Engine #3 there as well as the bomb squad and canines.
“There will be some fun stuff. We’ve got some really cool items to auction off,” Denton said.
It will be held at Lock 3 from 4-8 p.m.
Check back for Part Two to find out more about what they do, their unique approach and why this is so important.
For more information please call 330.329.4588
If you have any story ideas, questions, or comments you can contact: Katie@akroneur.com.