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May 18, 2023 / Articles

Nonprofit addressing police officer mental health

Presby Psych counselor Katie Boone says it’s the nature of first responders’ jobs that cause them to experience trauma regularly.

“They are exposed to some of the worst experiences, worst events in the community,” Boone said. “These folks are engaged in violent conflicts… where their lives are at risk and others’ lives are at risk”

Boone says there is often a stigma within police organizations surrounding asking for help.

Sgt. Donnie Penix has over 26 years with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Penix currently works with the CMPD airport division over the K-9 and narcotics unit. But, before his years at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Penix spent more than a decade on patrol and even more time with the SWAT team as a sniper.

“I think I spent New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July on a roof uptown as a sniper, for I don’t know how many years in a row. I spent more New Year’s Eve and Fourth of Julys with my coworkers than I did my family. That’s the tradeoff with it and you have to make a decision at some point to step away from that,” Penix said.

Penix said in his first five days as an officer, he saw his first dead person. He also responded to a domestic violence call where a man poured acid on a woman’s face. For 20 years, those are the scenes that piled up in Penix’s mind.

Read full story here.