Bringing Home to Work: Two Success Stories of Recovery--A Deputy Chief and an Officer

Presentation Description: Two stories of how a police department helped their officers recover and become productive leaders and officers within the agency. One became the Deputy Chief of Police, and the other became the department's CIT Coordinator and Peer Support Officer. Each reached their recovery in wildly divergent means, but both were ultimately successful. One supervisor was responsible for bringing both officers into recovery, and he shares his trauma on dealing with this issue twice over.

Methodology: This is a multiple-speaker presentation with intensely personal stories of addiction and recovery. It includes the trauma of a supervisor who had to deal with both officers and how it affected him. This is a side of recovery we often don't hear about. A police psychologist moderates and guides the speakers through his experience in trauma, officer wellness, and recovery. He also presents a Powerpoint presentation on trauma and recovery.

  • Upon completion, participants will see that an agency can benefit from helping employees recover. Officers in recovery are valuable assets to an agency and have a distinct knowledge basis that makes them better officers and employees.
  • Upon completion, participants will be able to understand that we must break through the stigma that reaching out for help is detrimental to a police career.
  • Upon completion, participants will be able to see that we need to encourage police executives to watch for early signs of problems with their officers and get them the help they need before it is too late!

Shaun McColgan

Deputy Chief of Police-Retired

Danbury, Connecticut, Police Department

I am a semi-retired Deputy Police Chief with forty years as a Police Officer. I started my career with the NYPD in 1984 and moved to the Danbury, CT, Police Department in 1990. I have served as a Detective and Detective Supervisor, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Deputy Chief. I commanded one hundred sixty sworn personnel and approximately a dozen non-sworn personnel. I retired as Deputy Chief in June of 2022 but remain a Special Police Officer (part-time). I have served on numerous mental health boards in CT since 2005. I am an FBI-trained hostage negotiator and was our department's team leader for many years. I am also certified as a CIT Officer and Coordinator and do peer support. I have traveled nationwide, speaking on CIT and Officer wellness issues. I am also nine-plus years into my recovery from alcohol addiction, thanks to the support of the Danbury Police Department.

Peter Elste

Police Officer

Danbury, Connecticut, Police Department

My name is Peter Elste and I have 24 years of service as a Police Officer. I served as a Patrol Officer for 4 years at 73rd Precinct in Brownsville Brooklyn, NY and have been a Patrol Officer with the City of Danbury, CT for the last 20 years. I am the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Coordinator for the Department, a Field Training Officer, a Peer Support team member, a former Emergency Services Unit (ESU) as a sniper and entry specialist. I am a former board member for the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement (CABLE) and currently serve on the board for Responder Wellness Inc as the Police Liaison. I am a decorated officer frequently recognized for my ability to effectively de-escalate calls and for organizing training and learning opportunities for the entire Department around Mental Health and High Risk individuals. I am the recipient of the Officer of the Year award in 2010 and an advocate for increasing awareness and support for Officer's mental health and wellbeing. I am the proud father of 2 children and a former World Class Soccer coach.

Dara Rampersad

Chief First Responder Psychologist


Dr. Dara Rampersad, PhD is a First Responder and Forensic psychologist who is licensed in both Arizona and Hawaii. He is certified in Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) as a CIT Coordinator, and is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and FBI- Crisis Negotiator Teams (CNT). In addition, Dr. Rampersad is licensed as a professional counselor in Colorado, and is nationally board certified in counseling, with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field.
Dr. Rampersad owns and operates BluePaz First Responder Services, which hosts annual first responder health and wellness conferences and provides counseling, consulting, coaching, critical incident stress debriefings, and training to first responders and their departments on resiliency, stress management and other pertinent topics.
Dr. Rampersad helped to start the world’s first hospital-based CIT program, and he currently serves as the Security Special Operations Senior Director of Crisis Services for a large multi-state hospital system. He was also a Professor of Practice at Arizona State University where he was creating a first of its kind program to teach counselors how to treat First Responders. In addition, he was an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School- Executive Leadership Program training law enforcement agencies, fire departments, hospital staff, paramedics, and other first responders on Crisis Response, PTSD, Resiliency and Mental Health Tactical Intervention (MHTI).
Dr. Rampersad is a founding member and first President of the Arizona CIT Association. He also served on the CIT International board of directors and is an active board member of EMSHelp, Mesa Police Department mental health advisory board, and Phoenix Fire Department paramedic training advisory board.

Michael Sturdevant

Deputy Chief of Police

Danbury, Connecticut, Police Department

A results-oriented, high-energy Law Enforcement Deputy Chief with over twenty-nine years of progressively responsible service in leadership, decision-making, and extensive knowledge of criminal law and procedures. A proven team leader with a focus on innovative thinking and the ability to continuously follow through with and implement new projects while maintaining the core mission and objectives of the Department and the safety and well-being of the community and the men and women of the department.


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