SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – What began as a routine traffic stop…
“I saw a gal that passed by me that wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. So I decided that I would turn around and stop the car,” says Youth Bureau Investigator, Kevin McCormick.
Quickly turned violent…
“I ended up taking one round to my head,” says McCormick.
In a matter of seconds, the officer’s life was forever changed after a gunman jumped out of the car and began shooting directly at McCormick.
Thankfully only one bullet grazed his head, leaving little physical damage. But as time went on…
“Unfortunately with time it started to soak in a little bit more,” says McCormick.
It was the mental trauma after the incident that truly put his life in danger.
“I first started noticing it when I was trying to fall asleep,” says McCormick.
Plagued with constant thoughts of the shooting, McCormick found himself in a dark place. Even considering suicide.
“Rock bottom… It’s a terrible place to be, but I learned that it doesn’t take a whole lot to get beyond that if you’ve got the right help,” says McCormick.
Crime Prevention Officer, Andrew Dutler says, “Most of the members of our department understand that we have to take care of one another.”
In McCormick’s time of need, a fellow officer was able to spot the warning signs of his post-traumatic stress and get him the help he needed before it was too late.
“He was reading me and he could tell something wasn’t right. I think he might have saved my life. I think had he not stepped in when he did things would have been much different for me today,” says McCormick.
“In life or death circumstances, we experience those things a lot together and so we need to make sure from the jump that we’re checking in with one another,” says Dutler.
The Sioux City Police Department knows that in times of crisis, silence can be just as deadly as a gun.
Being proactive, they initiated mandatory training sessions they refer to as ‘A Guide to Survive’.
“When you experience that stress that adds up over time it can cost a lot. We’re five times more likely to have post-traumatic stress and also depression,” says Dutler.
These training sessions teach officers how to identify signs of mental health issues in themselves and in others. Learning to help their fellow heroes that set out to help all of us every day.
“When it comes to an issue as large as mental health, I don’t think the work will ever be done. But what I will save about the Sioux City Police Department is there’s never been a hesitation to try and improve,” says Dutler.
“I think that we’re on the right path, I think that we’re getting there, I just hope that other departments follow suit,” says McCormick.
So far this year, at least 130 officers have died from suicide.
That’s already on track to exceed the 167 police nationwide that took their own lives last year.