SC LEAP offers counseling for law enforcement after traumatic in - FOX Carolina 21

SC LEAP offers counseling for law enforcement after traumatic incidents

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SC LEAP offers counseling for law enforcement after traumatic incidents. (FOX Carolina/ Nov. 14, 2017) SC LEAP offers counseling for law enforcement after traumatic incidents. (FOX Carolina/ Nov. 14, 2017)
GAFFNEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Crime tape is always an indication something went wrong. It was wrapped around a mobile home on Harris Trail in Gaffney last Thursday.

"Never in my career have I seen a scene that was that gruesome," Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said.

Investigators are trained and prepared for various deadly and dangerous situations, but may not always be able to cope after they witness those incidents. 

"We want to protect our officers," Mueller said.

He says deputies found Gary Stone's body cut up in several bags and containers underneath the mobile home. They arrested Stone's common-law wife, Dawn Wilkins and her son, Charles Bridges. 

"We're human beings. We hurt- we have a side where we're compassionate," Mueller said.

Just after the birth of his son, Mueller says he answered a call.

"My first day back to work I worked a traffic fatality where a 5-year-old got run over on a bike. I never forget that particular scene," he said.

It's situations like these that could trigger severe anxiety or PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and officers may need help. 

"The officers are reluctant to any to reach out to traditional forms of mental healthcare," Eric Skidmore said.

He's the program manager with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program, known as LEAP. The program offers peer support officers to those who need counseling. Those officers train, and counsel those who are dealing with critical incidents. 

"We use this peer support team. It's supported by Public Safety chaplains, it's supported by mental health professionals who understand public safety culture," Skidmore said.

The program serves five state agencies in which officers request help. Skidmore says the program provides seminars for larger groups or one-on-one sessions.

"That would be an interaction we would call it debriefing where they'd be talking though doing some psychological  teaching and teaching about normal reactions under abnormal events," Skidmore said.

It gives officers a chance to share their feelings and to make sure they're well.

"We don't want it to impact them professionally at work and we don't want it to impact them personally at home," Mueller said.

The program is state law and funds are given to LEAP by the legislature. For more information about the program  click here.

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