I went to Brooklyn in October to attend a twice-a-year training program of POPPA (Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance). I’ve been involved with POPPA since 2009 and completed a 38-hour class to be a Peer Support Officer. I’ve also completed a two-day suicide prevention program in the POPPA office called ASIST, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.
POPPA, a Program for Cops by Cops
POPPA is a program that is separate from NYPD but run by retired NYPD with the help of volunteer active duty and retired NYPD of all ranks to help hurt cops. POPPA is for Cops by Cops. Their motto is they listen, talk and when necessary secure the right professional services to assist their fellow officers. POPPA was started in 1995 when 26 NYPD Officers were lost to suicide in a two-year period.
The training mixes mostly active duty Cops with retirees, who were interviewed, screened and have successfully completed training. POPPA is largely a volunteer organization except for a few staff personnel and administrators. Everyone else volunteers their time to train and participate in keeping the hotline active 24/7, taking calls from officers, providing in-person follow-up and, when required, connecting with professional services.
Training sessions like this are a great chance to catch up with a few of the people I trained with back in 2009 and other friends I’ve made over the years by being a part of POPPA.
Training Sessions Offer Valuable Resources and “Real Life” Situations
Presentations included a session by a VA representative to discuss not only the services that are available in the VA Hospital, but also a separate VA Center that’s in every state available for veterans to walk into, watch TV and visit with other veterans. They have counselors and clinicians available in a more relaxed environment than the hospital.
Our next presentation featured multiple choice “what if” scenarios based on actual events. I like it when training programs actually emphasize the training aspect. Logically there might be more than one way to handle something but being prepared ahead of time helps when you’re put on the spot.
I joined the retirees as we broke into small groups for late morning and afternoon meetings. We went over the basics of properly handling a call to POPPA and drilled down a bit deeper with how certain scenarios had been handled in the past. Using actual events, we roleplayed how to effectively and actively listen for not only the problem the call started with but other aspects as well.
Helping Fellow Officers Helps Me in My Practice as Mike Dyer, Attorney at Law
Over the years, this training to aid hurt cops has been very helpful in my Mike Dyer law practice in helping to identify people in crisis and helping them get the help they need.
I’m proud to be part of this dedicated group of people who continue to make a difference in getting help and in some cases saving the lives of their brothers and sisters in blue.
Learn more about POPPA and get the app. If you want to know more, please let me know.