WASHINGTON - As Capitol police officers grapple with losing three of their own in three months, police departments from around the region are on hand at the Capitol to provide support.
Fairfax County Police is one of the agencies providing peer counseling.
"We know what other officers are going through because we’ve been there, we’ve dealt with it," said Lt. Christopher Sharp, commander of the department’s Incident Support Services division.
There’s often a stigma in law enforcement surrounding mental health, and it’s why it’s beneficial for officers to help each other.
A Capitol police officer tells FOX 5 the mood at work has been "somber" and officers have been struggling after Officer Billy Evans, a father of two and 18 year veteran, was killed Friday.
He said the peer counseling has been helpful, especially for officers who don’t want to seek out formal mental health treatment.
Sharp describes the peer counseling as informal and strictly confidential.
He said the department has about 50 officers trained to do the work and they’ve traveled across the nation to assist other departments.
"The biggest thing about us is, we’re known for going out and helping others whenever we’re called," said Sharp.
He said they often bring a comfort therapy dog.
"When you have that dog in the room, it really is kind of an icebreaker and it takes their minds off whatever they’re dealing with," said Sharp. "People get down on the ground and they’re playing with the dog, and it really just takes away that stress for a moment. Even if it’s for a moment."
On Wednesday, Capitol police officers were part of a procession across D.C. and Virginia, escorting Evans’ body from the medical examiner’s office to a funeral home in Falls Church.
Evans was killed Friday afternoon by a man who intentionally slammed his car into a police checkpoint. It’s the third death on the force in a span of three months.
Officer Brian Sicknick died a day after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. While there is still no official cause of death, law enforcement has said it’s being investigated as a homicide. Three days following the Capitol riot, Officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide.
In an emailed statement, Capitol police said counseling services are available to officers around the clock through the Office of Employee Assistance and through a Veterans Health Administration Mobile Vet Center.
A spokesperson said in additional, peer counselors from numerous law enforcement agencies are stopping by roll calls and visiting with officers across the Capitol Complex