The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department recognizes the value of providing a way for law enforcement and correctional personnel and their family members to deal with personal and/or professional problems. A successful approach to this problem is to provide non-professional (peer) support in addition to the services provided by the Counseling Unit. The Peer Support Program is composed of a group of peers who have volunteered to make themselves available to any member of the department. This will provide a way for the employees to talk out personal and/or professional problems confidentially with someone who understands and cares.
Employees are the police department's most valuable resource. The Peer Support Program is here to help them continue to be productive members of the department and community.
The Peer Support Program is a program that offers assistance and appropriate support resources to employees when personal or professional problems negatively affect their work performance, family, or self.
This program is designed to:
- Provide emotional support during and after times of personal or professional crisis to other employees and their family members who express a need for assistance.
- Develop peer supporters who can identify personal conflicts and provide guidance or referral to professional/alternate resources as required.
- Maintain an effective peer supporter training and response program.
- Support those who have had family tragedies.
- Support those who are ill or injured in the line of duty.
Role of Peer Supporters
The peer supporter responsibilities are as follows:
- Convey trust, anonymity, and assure confidentiality within guidelines to employees who seek assistance from the Peer Support Program.
- Provide assistance and support on a voluntary basis.
- Assist the employee by referring him/her to the appropriate outside resource when necessary.
- Be available to the individual for additional follow up support.
- Maintain contact with the Program Coordinator regarding program activities.
- Attend the Peer Support training sessions.
The Peer Supporter is not exempt from federal, state and local laws, or rules and regulations of the department.
Peer Support Selection Process
To volunteer as a peer supporter, employees must be nominated by their peers, subject to a thorough review process and, if selected, submit a request to serve through their chain of command to the Behavioral Health Services Division Manager. The Behavioral Health Services Manager will recommend the candidates suited for appointment to the Chief of Police for final approval.
Peer Support Training Program
Initially, peer supporters attend an extended training. The major emphasis focuses on skill development for conducting peer assistance. Follow-up training and workshops are scheduled to enhance problem solving skills, provide group sharing, and allow an exchange of experiences.
The acceptance and success of being in the Peer Support Program will be determined, in part, by observance of confidentiality. It is imperative that each peer supporter maintain strict confidentiality of all information learned about an individual within the guidelines of this program.
The policy of the Department's Peer Support Program is to maintain confidentiality. Communication between the peer supporter and a person is considered confidential except for matters which involve the following:
- Danger to self
- Danger to others
- Suspected child abuse
- Narcotic offenses
- Domestic Violence
- Factual elderly abuse
- In cases where law requires divulgence
- Where the peer requests divulgence and a signed release of information is obtained from the peer indicating what information is to be given and to whom.
A general principle for peer supporters follow is to inform the person, prior to their discussion, what the limitations and expectations are regarding the information revealed. In cases where a question regarding confidentially arises, the peer supporter must immediately contact the Behavioral Health Services Division Managers or our Counseling Unit Supervisor who will decide on appropriate action or contact the Wellness Unit Lieutenant.