FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. - Policing has always been a difficult job, and that may be more true now than ever before. So much so, the Fairfax County police department is renewing its focus on officers’ mental health.
This week the department announced the hiring of Cindy Guerra following a nationwide search. After a 27-year law enforcement career in Chicago, she started her new job as director of incident support services this week. In that role, she’ll largely focus on the mental health and wellness of the department’s personnel.
"No one calls police for coffee and cookies, so we have to a strong exterior, but we see a lot of things that most people would not see in a lifetime, and that’s very difficult," Guerra told Fox 5. "I want to break that stigma that you’re weak by seeking help, and that’s not the case."
The idea isn’t new. Fairfax Police already have comfort therapy dogs and peer support programs, but Guerra hopes to help even more during a time when many rank-and-file officers may need it.
"Whether it’s the job, your family life, a move, your kids, health, we want them to be able to come to us and say, ‘hey I need some help,’" she said. "We’re human beings. Sometimes there’s things we can’t handle on our own."