Ombud report on officer PTSD an indictment of OPP

Suicides among OPP officers are higher than on-duty deaths. Moreover, OPP does not formally keep track of the number of officers that have taken their own lives.

Ombud report on officer PTSD an indictment of OPP

Postby Thomas » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:57 am

Ombud report on officer PTSD an indictment of OPP

TORONTO - Do not think for a moment that Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin’s blistering and epic-sized report Wednesday on the mismanagement of post-traumatic stress disorder in our provincial police force will not reverberate across the country.

It will, and it will because it must.

Like high blood pressure, PTSD has often been called the silent killer.

But it’s not. It’s internally loud and fright filled, and no police force in Canada can yet dare to raise its hand and say it has it under control.

PTSD, as I have long documented, boils over with anger. It screams of sweat-drenched nightmares. It destroys marriages, promotes alcoholism and drug addictions, and it is relentless in its pursuit of a police officer’s body and soul.

And, as a result of PTSD being ignored, stigmatized, looked upon as ‘suspicious’ and therefore untreated, suicide is the escape too often taken.

Since 1989, for example, 23 active and retired OPP officers have purportedly committed suicide, two more than were killed in the line of duty.

Late Tuesday night, Marin’s office tweeted this: “This is part of @MarkBonokoski’s story that started the ball rolling on #OPP #OSI. Tomorrow is report time.”

And then Marin gave a link to a column that told, in part, the story of retired OPP Insp. Bruce Kruger, fresh out of the Homewood Treatment Centre, and his well-documented abandonment by the OPP in helping him deal with the PTSD that had taken over his life.

In the 18 months since that column was published, just for perspective, another five OPP officers have taken their own lives.

Bruce Kruger became Complainant No. 1 when Marin’s office began being inundated with similar stories and, as a result, the 155-page report tabled Wednesday — entitled In the Line of Duty — is the “most extensive (investigation) ever taken” by the ombudsman’s response team.

And it justifiably lays waste to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and the OPP, for dodging the crisis that is taking such a tragic toll on the sanity of its rank and file.

According to Marin, “there are no statistics kept or formal acknowledgement of OPP suicides, no prevention program and no analysis of why they occurred.”

This is not just an observation by Marin, it’s an indictment.

The aforementioned 23 suicides, in fact, is only a good guess, because it comes from ad hoc data kept by a now-retired psychologist with the OPP, and not from the OPP’s head office in Orillia.

What is particularly disturbing is that Marin gave both the ministry and the OPP an advanced copy of his report, and got no serious response.

He got, instead, what he called a “deeply-disturbed bureaucratic brushoff” with no specific commitment to implement any of his 34 recommendations to corral and treat PTSD in the force.

“The OPP had five weeks to review my recommendations,” said Marin. “(But) the commissioner (Chris Lewis) responded with little more than platitudes about caring for OPP members.”

Again, not just an observation, but an indictment.

Marin has never been one to pull punches but, then again, he has the experience of writing a similar report on PTSD in the Canadian military during the Afghanistan conflict, and getting similar initial responses, when he was the armed forces ombudsman in 2002.

“But, 10 years later, the culture of denial is gone (in the military),” said Marin. “If the military culture can evolve, I am optimistic that police culture can too.

“But we certainly cannot afford to wait another 10 years.” ... ent-of-opp ... 742f1b.pdf
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Re: Ombud report on officer PTSD an indictment of OPP

Postby Thomas » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:46 am

Town crier honoured for PTSD lobbying

BRACEBRIDGE - Bracebridge businessman, town crier and former OPP officer Bruce Kruger has received a national award for his work drawing attention to the lack of services and support available for police officers suffering with post traumatic stress disorder.

The Tema Conter Memorial Trust named Kruger as this year’s winner of their TCMT Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service. The Tema Conter Memorial Trust is a national not-for-profit organization that works to “help the men and women of our correctional, emergency, and military organizations when they need it most,” specifically with post traumatic stress disorder. The award is presented to an “individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in affecting organizational change, growth and development when dealing with acute, cumulative and post traumatic stress in the workplace.”

“I was very honoured,” said Kruger, on receiving the award. “It means that I was successful in bringing out the need for change to address post traumatic stress disorder and mental illnesses within policing and it became highly successful in creating an environment for the change.”

In 2010, Kruger filed a complaint with Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin regarding the difficulties he and other police officers have faced getting recognition and help, either through the police force or through workman’s compensation, for post traumatic stress disorder developed as a result of their policing duties.

In October 2012, the Ombudsman presented his report, In the Line of Duty, which directed 28 recommendations toward the OPP and six at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

“It was the largest investigation that the ombudsman had ever undertaken and it was the most recommendations that he’s ever made for one investigation,” said Kruger.

The recommendations include reducing stigma within the force, training officers on post traumatic stress disorder, confidential tracking of stress injuries, creating a community referral list of mental health resources, and providing retired officers with ongoing access to supports. The OPP is currently in the process of reviewing and implementing the recommendations and must report back to the ombudsman quarterly with their progress.

“As a result of my initial complaint getting to this stage, it’s now affecting all police within the province of Ontario; there’s a working group set up with the Ministry of Labour to address these with all municipal police through the Ontario Chiefs of Police Association; and, as a result also, these recommendations are being discussed now at the Canadian Chiefs of Police for adoption across Canada,” said Kruger. “So it was a huge major step forward.”

Kruger has found the help he needs to overcome his own post traumatic stress disorder and continues to assist both the OPP with implementing the recommendations and fellow officers in their quest for assistance.

“The Ontario Provincial Police have done a tremendous job at adopting as many of the recommendations as quickly as possible and as a result of it also, they have issued a mental health book specifically on post traumatic stress for over 6,000 officers and families,” said Kruger.

The lifetime achievement award was presented to Kruger at the Tema Conter Gala Dinner in Vaughan on Feb. 23, with OPP commissioner Chris Lewis in attendance among 450 others, including police, fire, EMS and Armed Forces personnel. The award winner receives a framed photograph that has been designed and taken specifically to represent the recipient. For Kruger’s award, he is dressed as the town crier, he is holding the ombudsman report, In the Line of Duty, and he is standing in front of the OPP Wall of Honour for fallen officers located at its headquarters in Orillia.

“When I speak to various organizations about mental health and post traumatic stress, I have given a cry initially as a town crier,” explained Kruger. “But then I say to the audience, but now I want to talk about real crying, and as a result I try to spread the word as best I can as a town crier.”

The book in his hand is the result of his complaint to the ombudsman and the Wall of Honour is a place he hopes never to be.

At the time Kruger put filed his complaint with the ombudsman, the family of an officer who committed suicide because of post traumatic stress disorder was fighting to have their loved one’s name included on the wall. They felt that he had died as a result of his policing duties, as much as if he was killed on the job.

“So I wrote and said, what are they doing to try to keep my name off it?” said Kruger. “That’s why the Wall of Honour is in the background. What are they doing to keep police officers names off that wall?” ... d-lobbying
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Re: Ombud report on officer PTSD an indictment of OPP

Postby Thomas » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:48 am

Ontario Ombudsman looking for government action

QUEEN’S PARK — In presenting his annual report, Ontario’s Ombudsman noted the provincial government has yet to follow through on recommendations to give the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) more teeth or replace antiquated legislation that gives police the power to stop, question and search people without probable cause or warrants.

Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin said the government has welcomed most of his recommendations and implemented positive changes in the last fiscal year, but has failed to make any meaningful movement on several high-profile cases.

Three years after the G20 Summit in Toronto resulted in massive violations of civil rights, the government has yet to pass a replacement to the Second World War-era Public Works Protection Act it used to give police wide powers to search and question civilians entering the summit area.

Queen’s Park has also done nothing to strengthen the legislative mandate of the SIU, the civilian agency mandated to investigate when police are involved in incidents where someone dies, is seriously injured or sexual assault is alleged.

This political foot-dragging is “frustrating the public interest,” Marin said in issuing his report.

Two years after promising to regulate the non-emergency medical transfer industry to protect patients transported in these ambulance-like vehicles, the government has yet to do so, he added.

Marin urged the government to address this “unfinished business” and make better use of his office in areas of oversight.

A year after former premier Dalton McGuinty discussed opening the door to Ombudsman oversight of municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals and long-term care homes (the MUSH sector), as well as children’s aid societies and police, action has stalled, Marin said.

According to Marin, the Ombudsman had to turn away a record 2,541 complaints about these organizations because they remain outside of his jurisdiction.

“Political wrangling aside, there is simply no well-articulated, rational justification for barring Ombudsman oversight in the MUSH sector,” he said.

The report emphasized the need for oversight of children’s aid societies, hospitals and long-term care homes. Marin noted Ontario is “dead last” in Canada in allowing Ombudsman scrutiny in these areas.

“I remain hopeful that, rather than resorting to inferior internal accountability devices, the government of Ontario will recognize the benefits of putting the Ombudsman’s Office to use in all areas that sorely need our intervention,” Marin said.

He also reiterated need for Ombudsman oversight of the scandal-plagued Ornge air ambulance service, which generated 12 complaints to his office in the past year.

A separate report issued by the Office of the Chief Coroner concluded operational issues at Ornge “had some degree of impact” in eight deaths.

The Ombudsman’s annual report reviews the 19,726 cases received by the Ombudsman in the past fiscal year. Updates of major systemic investigations include the Ontario Provincial Police’s progress in dealing with operational stress injuries and suicide among its members.

Ontario’s New Democrat Party blasted the Liberal government for inaction.

“Refusing to give the Ombudsman the powers to investigate thousands of complaints, leaves Ontarians in vulnerable situations,” said NDP Health Critic France Gélinas. “Ontario is the only province in Canada that does not grant Ombudsman oversight of hospitals, long-term care facilities and child protection services.“ ... nt-action/ ... story.html
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