OIG Found Shortcomings in Two of the Chicago Police Department’s Strategies to Support Members’ Mental Health and Wellness

The Public Safety section of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an inquiry into two Chicago Police Department (CPD) strategies to support members’ mental health and wellbeing: (1) the Peer Support Program (PSP) and (2) the responsibility of frontline supervisors to monitor their officers’ mental health and refer them to services as needed.

OIG’s objectives were to determine whether PSP is designed and implemented in accordance with best practices, and whether CPD adequately prepares its supervisors to identify members in need of mental health assistance. OIG found that several operational limitations prevent PSP from better meeting officer wellness needs, and that CPD does not adequately prepare its supervisors to fulfill their officer wellness-related responsibilities.

Most of CPD’s existing officer wellness programs are run through its Professional Counseling Division (PCD). PCD’s services include the Employee Assistance Program, Traumatic Incident Stress Management Program, Alcohol-use and Substance-use Services Program, and PSP. Each of these programs operates as a distinct subsection in PCD.

Specifically, OIG found that the PSP suffers from deficiencies in recruitment and staffing, training, documentation and record-keeping, internal communications, and cultural competency; and that CPD has provided supervisors little in-service officer wellness training, and scant information concerning directive changes.

OIG made 13 recommendations to CPD. The first set of recommendations addresses gaps between PSP structure and practices and best practices for peer support programs in law enforcement contexts, including better planning, recruitment, trainings, etc. The second set of recommendations suggests improvements to CPD’s in-service training of supervisors and efforts to keep supervisors informed of changes to directives.

In response to OIG’s report, CPD provided an implementation timeline of six months for four of OIG’s 13 recommendations and stated that implementation was “ongoing” for the remaining nine.

“CPD owes it to its members to employ well-developed, well-resourced wellness strategies. Any missed opportunity to strengthen supervisors and PSMs as wellness resources increases the risk that CPD members will go without critical services,” said Inspector General Deborah Witzburg. “The wellness of CPD members is an urgent concern, and the imperative to meet the need is profound. We appreciate CPD’s ongoing efforts, and look forward to the full implementation of necessary improvements.”

The full report can be found online at OIG’s website: bit.ly/CPDOfficerWellness.

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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: www.igchicago.org.