Hyattsville weighs required ‘mental health’ program for city police


Michael Theis/Route 1 Reporter

A Hyattsville City Police Department vehicle sits outside of Hyattsville City Hall.

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Hyattsville police officers could be required to talk to psychologists once every three months under a proposal to expand mental health services at the department.

Dubbed the Hyattsville City Police Department Mental Health Program, the initiative – if approved by Hyattsville City Council – would launch a “robust calendar of required and optional training and education opportunities” for city police officers and dispatchers. The program would provide officers with information on mental illness awareness, mental health first aid, and crisis intervention team training. The program also includes twice-weekly meditation and wellness sessions.

The program was created by the police department’s media relations and mental health programs manager, Adrienne Augustus.

In December, an internal survey of Hyattsville police dispatchers and officers found more than half felt they could not report a concern about a colleague without causing that colleague “professional harm.”

Further, 61 percent of survey respondents felt “requiring every officer and dispatcher to meet with a talk therapist once a quarter for a mental wellness check-in” was a “positive idea.” On the other hand, 21 percent were neutral on the idea, while 18 percent said it was a “negative idea.”

“This program is designed to remove the stigma of choosing to see a therapist and guarantees HCPD personnel receive mental health support for free,” reads a city memo outlining the proposal. “These confidential, 50-minute sessions would include clinical and psycho-educational coaching, and when needed, talk therapy. Discussions would only be reported if someone is deemed a danger to themself or to others.”

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