MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. – Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced today that the Prosecutor’s Office has been awarded a grant by the Ian Oliu Foundation of Marlton, N.J. to implement a mental health awareness and training program to help law enforcement officers navigate through mental trauma and learn to identify the stressors that are associated with their profession.
The statewide training, known as the “Comprehensive Officer Resiliency Program,” is being spearheaded by the Prosecutor’s Office and has been in the works for more than three years. The initiative will utilize an established program to teach law enforcement agencies how to change the culture within their agency and promote an environment that stresses mental well-being among first responders.
“The idea of addressing mental health in law enforcement was taboo for many years,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “Officers suffered through substance abuse, depression and divorce rather than seek assistance for the cumulative mental stress created by their efforts to protect society. I commend the group that has been working so hard to address this aspect of police work, and I am thankful to the Ian Oliu Foundation for its support of this initiative.”
The initiative will utilize research on resiliency that was incorporated into training by the United States military and later adapted for law enforcement purposes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy. The first training will be held in June at Stockton University in Galloway Township. It will be conducted by the FBI National Academy and Acadia Healthcare, and will feature nationally- acclaimed speakers.
The $8,000 grant will cover the costs of implementing the training, and will also be used to create a mental health handbook for members of the Prosecutor’s Office.
“The grant will be used to help those who have vowed and pledged to help others,” said Jorge Oliu, Ian’s father. “That is a very powerful concept and very meaningful to us.”
The foundation was created by the family and friends of Ian Oliu, a Cherry Hill East High School student who took his life in 2002. The foundation has raised money for educational initiatives that support mental health awareness in schools, as well as for resources for first responder organizations in Burlington and Camden counties. For more information on the foundation, visit www.ianoliufoundation.org.
This initiative is a collaborative effort that involves the FBI National Academy, Acadia Healthcare, the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Department, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, the Maple Shade Police Department, the New Jersey and Burlington County Police Chaplain Programs, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Division Of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey Department of Health, and the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.