With many police officers likely to be affected by a critical incident during their career, Detective Sergeant Madelaine Tretter and Detective Kathlin Seremetkovski developed a pilot psychological wellness program last year to address the issue.
The plan was to engage a group of officers from their Division with two years or less experience on the job. However, when 14 Division got wind of what was taking place, they asked to be part of the process and some of their members were included.
A total of 26 police officers participated in the one-year pilot initiative that launched with the support of 22 Division Superintendent Shaun Narine.
In her 32nd year with the Service, Tretter said the psychological wellness program for new officers is designed to provide a confidential place for cops to talk about the stressors in their lives, and learn effective strategies for coping with the unique demands of a career in law enforcement.
“The aim of the program is to reduce the potential for long-term negative effects due to job demands, and promote optimal functioning and an improved quality of life through enhanced psychological health and resilience to stress,” she said.
We recognize the need for some greater interaction and our hope is to reduce the stigma that’s associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
While there is also support through Psychological Services at police headquarters, this program provides another voluntary support.
Plans are underway to expand the program to include two more Divisions.
Tretter and Seremetkovski, who joined the Service 14 years ago, were recognized with a Team Endeavours citation at the 18th annual Ontario Women in Law Enforcement (OWLE) awards banquet in Mississauga on May 6.
“This is quite an honour for us,” said Tretter, a member of the Service’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) and a volunteer peer support member. CIRT members respond to units, after a traumatic incident, to debrief officers and civilians in order to help them cope and build psychological strength. “As CIRT members, we recognize the need for some greater interaction and our hope is to reduce the stigma that’s associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”
Leslie Cameron-Koski, the executive assistant to Acting Staff Superintendent Kathryn Martin, who heads the Detective Services Operations, was honoured with a Civilian Award of Achievement citation.
She is the secretary of the Toronto TPS Senior Officers organization and the Black Community Consultative Committee and co-chair of the Special Olympics Torch Run committee.
“This recognition means a lot,” said Cameron-Koski, who joined the Service three decades ago. “Civilians are an integral part of our organization and I am honoured to be part of this group that’s making a significant contribution to policing in our city.”
Chief Mark Saunders, who attended the celebration, praised the high-achieving women.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to recognize the contributions that women in law enforcement are making to keep our communities safe,” he said. “When I first got on the job, there was a lack of women joining the profession. These types of settings are necessary to highlight and celebrate the contributions all women are making in law enforcement in the province.”