ROSELLE PARK, NJ - “In January it will be the one-year anniversary of when our Police Department changed forever,” said Roselle Park Police Chief Daniel J. McCaffery. “We lost a friend and coworker. Having to tell the people that work for me that we lost one of our own was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.”
In the aftermath of that incident involving the loss of Officer Nortrup, the Roselle Park Police Department was faced with an all-too-common trend in policing today, officer suicide. According to Blue H.E.L.P., a nonprofit organization that tracks first responder suicides, there were 236 suicides in 2019 and 147 already in 2020.
Mental health and well-being has been overlooked for far too long in our profession and it needs to change, according to McCaffery. New Jersey has already recognized the problem and created a resiliency program in 2019 to help combat the issue of police suicide.
Since Officer Nortrup’s passing, the Roselle Park Police Department scheduled Dr. Lewis Z. Schlosser, PhD, ABPP, a licensed psychologist who has conducted over 10,000 psychological evaluations for law enforcement, to give a seminar to their officers about mental health and wellbeing. “I wish I had scheduled it sooner. Maybe Officer Nortrup would have sought out help,” said McCaffery.
McCaffery has attempted to change culture of law enforcement by fostering an open door policy. “I have told my officers that if any of them are having an issue, whatever it may be that they can come see me, my door is always open.” McCaffery also plans on having members of Princeton House Behavioral Health speak to his department; however, due to the Pandemic it has been postponed.
This month officers are participating in No Shave November, and next month they will be participating in Double Down December. No Shave November involves the officers growing facial hair for a cause. This year, the cause they chose is the Blessing Bag Brigade, which is a nonprofit that helps New Jersey’s homeless population.
This month, the officers requested to “double down” for December and donate to a cause that is very near and dear to them, especially with the holidays coming up. Being that this is going to be the first Christmas that Officer Nortrup will not be with his family, his police family wanted to remember him in a special way. In remembrance of Officer Nortrup, the Roselle Park Police Department is raising money to donate to COP 2 COP, which is a nonprofit that provides 24/7 support to law enforcement officers and their families. The COP2COP program was the first program of its kind in the nation to focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for law enforcement officers.
COP2COP in New Jersey has become an essential program for law enforcement officers, helping to avert more than 300 suicides in its nearly 20 years of existence. “If we can help one person, it will all be worth it,” McCaffery said.