Cumberland Police Department. Contributed

A coworker posed a question a while ago to Cumberland Police Chief Charles “Chip” Rumsey: “Every year, it’s important that we go to our doctor for a physical to make sure our bodies are doing well and we don’t have issues that we need to address. Why aren’t we doing the same with our mental health?”

“That made a huge amount of sense to me,” Rumsey said, and he decided to act on it.

A plan to implement a mental wellness program for Cumberland police officers went to the back burner during the throes of the pandemic, but got off the ground in the past year.

The Police Department now will receive annual wellness visits from a mental health provider, including screenings and interviews to monitor officers for mental health issues like post-traumatic stress and substance abuse. The provider also will instruct officers on how to break barriers to seeking help for mental health challenges, how to find professional help and how to maintain mental health resilience.

“That’s important to me because our officers get good information that can help them take care of themselves and help them seek help if and when they think they might need it,” Rumsey said.


In specific cases, if, for example, an officer is exposed to a particularly traumatic experience, the provider will be called in to debrief the officer and discuss how to handle it. It’s healthy for officers to talk about how a traumatic experience has affected them, Rumsey said, and to be made aware of warning signs that may point to unresolved issues that may need to be addressed in the future.

Mental wellness programs at police departments are fairly new in Maine, but Yarmouth Police Chief Don Gallant said the profession has come a long way in its efforts to stress the importance of mental wellness among police officers and to promote normalcy and acceptance about seeking help from peers or professionals when needed.

“Not that long ago, there was a sense that if you acknowledged the stress or strain, it was some sort of failure on your part,” Gallant said.

Yarmouth has not yet implemented a mental wellness program, but Gallant said he hopes to implement one in the future.

“I hope to bring something to Yarmouth that can have a positive impact on officer mental wellness and department culture,” Gallant said.

For now, Yarmouth officers are able to reach out to a police chaplain whenever necessary, he said. In addition, he recently attended a training session to provide peer-to-peer and group debrief support to Maine’s law enforcement leadership.

“Mental health is a significant issue for everyone, police included,” he said.

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