INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis Metro Police executives are considering an Alcoholics Anonymous program for officers following a recent string of alcohol-related arrests on the force.
The plan is still in its early stages, but Thursday's announcement is a bold first step for IMPD.
According to a national study, 25-percent of police officers have addictions or issues with alcohol, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported.
As a result, officers have higher rates of suicide, instances of domestic violence, depression and heart disease than the general population.
Dennis Bender, executive director of the Progress House, a residential alcohol treatment facility, says police officers, perhaps more than the general public, need help confronting substance abuse.
"You know the buddy system. If I don't say anything…but in reality, not saying something is only feeding their addiction. In the context of a support group, that's how folks get better and that puts them on a path to recovery," Bender said.
In 1996, the Department of Public Safety instituted a policy of alcohol and drug testing.
In the past year alone, six IMPD officers have been arrested for driving while intoxicated, including Kevin Brown , who's been arrested twice in eleven months for drunk driving.
The Indianapolis Fire Department doesn't have an Alcoholics Anonymous program, but it does have a system of peer support, said IFD Local 416 President Mike Reeves.
"We instruct our company officers to be on the lookout for people coming in late, not doing their job. No one is forced into programs but we try to look out for ourselves," Reeves said.
Law enforcement could be one of the most difficult groups to reach with intervention because there is a stigma of weakness or the fear of impact on a career or promotion.