Law enforcement from across the country attend trauma training in Omaha

New data from the FBI shows that 44 law enforcement officers were killed in the first eight months of this year.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:04 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - In response to the trauma associated with line-of-duty deaths, training sessions in Omaha are helping officers and their loved ones cope and rebuild.

New data from the FBI shows that 86 law enforcement officers were killed in the first eight months of this year. Thirteen come from the Midwest.

Called “Traumas of Law Enforcement Trainings,” or TLEs, they’re held by National Concerns of Police Survivors, a nonprofit organization.

“The more you know about PTSD, the greater the chances to dance,” said Sheriff Tim Whitcomb of Cattaraugus County, N.Y. He was just one of many presenters at the training sessions.

PTSD, grief, and anxiety are topics of discussion that are newer to those in law enforcement but are now in the conversation.

“This is a three-day training talking about the type of trauma you’re going to face, the accumulation of trauma over a long career of law enforcement, all the horrible things you have to face and see, and how that can affect you,” said Sergeant Joe Nickerson with the Omaha Police Department and board member of Nebraska C.O.P.S.

The Nebraska chapter of C.O.P.S. emerged in response to the 2015 death of Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco, who was killed in the line of duty.

“We saw that after Kerrie’s passing, the community came out in droves. There was so much support. That was really felt from our department from the community. Which helped us recognize the need that we all need support after loss,” Nickerson said.

At the training Thursday, they learned about mental-health resources like peer support groups, access to monetary benefits after an officer’s death, and free support retreats throughout the year.

More than 100 people attended the training at Aksarben Village — people from across the Omaha-metro and the country, including Robert Castillo from Texas.

“I was involved in an officer-involved shooting; so, of course, that trauma comes to you. And you have to learn how to deal with it so that way you can actually continue your career,” said Castillo, who represents the Laredo Police Department.

Officer Castillo was responding to a domestic disturbance that escalated to a gunfight. Thankfully, he’s here today. But even still, he must grapple with the aftermath.

“Dealing with the situation of going back to work, having to go back to the same kind of call… domestic disturbance. Could this be the same kind of call that’s going to be exactly the same?” he said. “At that time we didn’t have a peer support in our department, so it was more of the officers that were already involved in those kind of situations that reached out.”

He and four others from his department will take the information they learned in Omaha back to Texas.

“We got more information here than I think we ever had in our department,” Castillo said. “It feels like now we are being looked at as not just somebody in the uniform to go do something they should be prepared for. We’re humanized now. We are officers. We’re human beings. We’re fathers. We’re brothers. We’re sons.”