Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Projects: Expanding Services Beyond Your Department

This conference workshop presentation discusses the Cleveland, Ohio, Division of Police Employee Assistance unit's experience in expanding and implementing a countywide police peer-mentoring program to serve officers from the 58 law enforcement agencies throughout Cuyahoga County. The presentation also discusses the Metro Nashville, Tennessee, Police Department's Behavioral Health Services (BHS) division. Viewers will learn how BHS updated and standardized best practices in peer support and expanded services to 21 additional agencies.

Joann Peterson

Training Officer, Connecticut Department of Public Safety

Retired Captain Joann Peterson is a fulltime certified police instructor at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden, CT.  She instructs police recruits in Suicide Recognition, Management & Prevention, Human Behavior & Interpersonal Relations, Stress Management, Cultural Awareness & Diversity, Connecticut Criminal Law, Juvenile Law, Hate & Bias Crimes, Civil Complaints & Service Calls, Sexual Assaults, and Police Authority & Discretion.  Captain Peterson is currently a co-chairperson on a federal grant creating a state wide Peer Support training program to reduce officer stress and suicide.  Before devoting her fulltime work to the Police Academy, she was a tenacious law enforcement professional with 22 years of dedicated service to the New Haven Police Department.  She began her career as a Patrol Officer and transitioned into Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain.  Some of her accomplishments include being a Peer Support Team Leader, Hostage Negotiator Team Leader, Yale Child Study Fellow, Director of the Training Academy, Patrol Commander, and Internal Affairs Commander. Retiring at the rank of Captain; she continues her love of law enforcement at the Connecticut Police Academy.    Retired Captain Peterson holds a Master's Degree in Human Relations & Rhetorical Theory Communications from the University of Maine, 1990, and a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Video Production Communications from Southern Connecticut State University, 1988.  

Melissa Dawson

Sergeant, Employee Assistance Unit, Department of Public Safety, Cleveland, Ohio, Division of Police

Sergeant Melissa Dawson has been with the Cleveland Division of Police for 21 years. Her previous assignments including basic patrol and police academy instructor. Sergeant Dawson has been in charge of the Division's Employee Assistance Unit (EAU) for the last 7 years. As part of the Employee Assistance Unit Sergeant Dawson works to help members of the Division in many ways, including but now limited to; helping those involved in a critical incident; working to create programs such as yoga, mindfulness, family support groups, peer support program, and other resources for the officers and supervisors of the Division. All of this and more is what lead Sgt. Dawson and her team to be awarded the Unit of the Year for 2018. 

Michael Gooch

Wellness Unit Sergeant, Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee, Police Department

Michael Gooch is a 20 year law enforcement veteran where he spent 11 years as a detective in the Gang Unit and Domestic Violence Unit and 9 years in various patrol functions both as a officer and supervisor. He currently holds the rank of Sergeant with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. He is assigned to the Professional Wellness Section and serves as the MNPD Wellness Unit Sergeant. He oversees the day to day operations of the MNPD Chaplain Unit, Peer Support Program, Family Support Program, MNPD V.E.T. Program, Training & Development, and Wellness Outreach. He has certifications in ICISF Group and Individual Crisis Intervention, Mental Health First-Aid, Q.P.R. Suicide Prevention and is a member of the MNPD Critical Incident Stress Team. Michael is a member of the TN Disaster Mental Health Strike Team sponsored by the TN Department of Health.   Michael has been named as a delegate to the Department of Justice Office of Safety and Wellness working group which is a nationwide council of law enforcement officers who actively pursue ways to promote wellness in law enforcement. Michael also serves as a subject matter expert on Officer Wellness with the IACP CRI-TAC program. Michael is an adjunct instructor at the MNPD Training academy where he specializes in CISM, Suicide Prevention, Wellness & Resiliency, Peer Support, and Family Support for Law Enforcement Families. Michael graduated from Bethel University where he obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice Administration 

David Kennington

Behavior Health Services Assistant Manager, Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee, Police Department

David Kennington is a Licensed Professional Counselor employed by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) since 2007. He manages The Professional Wellness Section, which was cited as a model officer wellness program in a 2019 Department of Justice Congressional Report. The Professional Wellness Section has 2 Units (Counseling and Wellness) with multiple programs including, training, critical incident stress management, psychotherapy, peer support, family support, and chaplain support. The Professional Wellness Section is comprised of both sworn and civilian employees.  He provides therapy to law enforcement personnel and their families, is a certified officer wellness instructor and leads critical incident stress debriefings. He has over 30 years of experience working as a clinical psychotherapist. He recently served on Officer Safety and Wellness Panels at the Department of Justice. He has a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin (1988) and a M.A. in Professional Counseling from The University of Texas at Tyler (1994). David has been married to Korree for 23 years. They have 2 sons, Collin (20) and Cooper (16). 


Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Projects: Expanding Services Beyond Your Department Conference Workshop Presentation
Open to view video.
Open to view video.
IACP Credit Hours and Certificate of Attendance
1.00 IACP Credit Hours and Certificate of Attendance credit  |  Certificate available
1.00 IACP Credit Hours and Certificate of Attendance credit  |  Certificate available