Connecticut State Police Sgt. Troy Anderson was shocked when his former partner, veteran trooper Victor Diaz, shot his girlfriend and himself in 2005, says the Hartford Courant. Now, Anderson, 38, heads the department’s first intensive peer counseling effort, a program that is transforming the stereotype of stone-faced troopers unaffected by the broken bodies, crumpled cars, and violent deaths they see regularly. “If these things didn’t affect us in some way, they would clinically say something was wrong with us, that we’re crazy. We all have feelings,” said State Police Union President Steven Rief, who helped to launch the program.
Now, troopers are urged to talk with their colleagues about their feelings and about what they have witnessed before the stress boils over into domestic violence, or worse. The program, State Troopers Offering Peer Support, or STOPS, went into effect in October. A law stipulated that the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services establish a pilot program of peer counseling in the Department of Public Safety. “There is a cumulative effect, whether you are going to an autopsy or a traumatic death,” said Rief, who spent 11½ years on the major crime squad. “How many dead bodies do you have to see before it takes its toll?”