Healing Your Agency Following an Officer Suicide
This conference workshop presentation highlights the National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicide's newly released tool, After a Suicide in Blue: A Guide for Law Enforcement Agencies, which outlines evidence-based strategies and supports necessary for agency's to provide effective care, promote healing, and reduce the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior for those impacted. Following an officer suicide, an agency's well-structured response is vital for the safety and wellness of the department and surviving family members. Postvention is the organized response in the aftermath of a suicide that addresses complex factors and considerations surrounding a suicide death.
Associate Project Director
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
Ms. Erin Oehler currently serves as the Associate Director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance). As the Associate Director, she is responsible for providing programmatic and project management support to Action Alliance initiatives; cultivating national partnerships with diverse audiences such as large private sector employers, news media, public safety, and the entertainment industry; and leading the Action Alliance’s workplace suicide prevention efforts.
Before joining the Action Alliance, Oehler was a Policy Advisor for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. In that role, she lead a team in development, implementation, and conducting of quality assurance on policies for state Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, CHIP programs and healthy women and children initiatives.
Prior to her work at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, she was the Policy Specialist at the Texas Department of State Health Services for the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Waiver, a Medicaid waiver program which provides home and community-based services as an alternative to institutionalization for children struggling with emotional disturbance. As Policy Specialist, she was the subject matter expert on legal and policy matters on the statewide expansion and administration of the Waiver.
Early in her career, Oehler was an Education Policy Consultant for the Texas Association of School Boards, responsible for the research, development, and management of legal and local school board policies for 110 school districts throughout Texas.
Oehler has over 15 years of experience in education and public health law and policy. She received her undergraduate degree in political science from St. Edward’s University, Master’s degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Texas State University, and Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law.
Survivors of Blue Suicide
Shelley Jones graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration of Justice, and went on to work as a Missouri Probation and Parole Officer. In 1993, she was hired as a patrol officer by the Columbia (MO) Police Department and 10 years later joined their new Motorcycle Unit. She retired as an Assistant Chief after 21 years of service. Ms. Jones is the recipient of the Medal Valor and named Missouri Peace Officer of Year-1996. In 2014, upon retiring from law enforcement, Ms. Jones joined National Concerns of Police Survivors as the Director of Operations. While at C.O.P.S. she learned that the leadership was concerned about the lack of services for the families of officers who die by suicide. Ms. Jones submitted a proposal to the National Board and in May 2020, with the blessing and support of C.O.P.S., left C.O.P.S. along with another staff member, and together they started a new non-profit organization, Survivors of Blue Suicide Foundation, Inc. (SBS). Ms. Jones is a surviving co-worker of Columbia Police Officer Michael Goldberg who died by suicide in 2007 and Officer Molly Thomas-Bowden who was killed in the line of duty in 2005.
Vice President of Suicide Prevention and Postvention
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Kim Ruocco is the Vice President For Suicide Prevention and Postvention at the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). In this role, Ms. Ruocco has developed a field leading, best practice three-phase postvention model, which offers a road map to stabilization, a health promoting grief journey and opportunities for post-traumatic growth.
In addition to her postvention work Ms. Ruocco provides thought leadership and subject matter expertise to suicide prevention efforts in many civilian and military organizations. She is an international speaker who uses her education, personal experience and information gathered from 1000’s of service members and bereaved military families to help others more fully understand suicide.
Ms. Ruocco has testified before both the Senate and House Committees on Veterans Affairs. She is the co-lead for AAS Mil/Vet Committee, a co-lead on the National Action Alliance Service Member, Veteran and family Advisory group, and a member of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) steering committee.
Kim holds a BA in Human Services and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston University. She is also the surviving widow of Marine Corp Major John Ruocco, who died by suicide in 2005.
Jennifer Styles is a Program Manager at the International Association of Chiefs of Police. She is an experienced criminal justice grant manager with a strong ability to translate the needs of the field into tangible resources, services, and trainings. Ms. Styles specializes in community-police relations, officer safety and wellness, pretrial justice, volunteer management, emergency preparedness, and tribal and smaller agency issues. Ms. Styles currently oversees IACP’s portfolio of officer safety and wellness work to include the Officer Safety and Wellness Symposium, National Consortium on the Prevention of Law Enforcement Suicide, Innovative Approaches to Officer Safety and Wellness, VALOR Law Enforcement Resilience Training Program, National Peer Support Program for Small and Rural Agencies, and Law Enforcement Family Wellness Training and Technical Assistance Program.