Sioux City Police Department
Award Year: 2021
Safety Category: Officer Wellness
Additional Award Year: N/A
The Sioux City Police Department was founded in 1857 and has a sworn strength of 126 officers and 34 non-sworn personnel. The Department is in Sioux City, Iowa which has a population of approximately 83,000 residents, and is located at the center of a tri-state metropolitan area made up of South Sioux City, Nebraska and North Sioux City, South Dakota. The metro area has an estimated population of 169,000, with many of those residents working, and seeking entertainment in Sioux City. Sioux City is located on the I-29 corridor and located approximately 90 miles from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and 90 miles from Omaha, Nebraska. The community is also located on Highway 20, which is a four-lane highway that connects Sioux City to Chicago, Illinois on a direct west to east trip across the state of Iowa.
The Sioux City Police Department’s dedication to overall Officer Wellness in the past 3.5 years, has become an example for other agencies in the Tri-State area. The Sioux City Police Department focuses on mental health and overall wellness as it relates to stress-induced trauma, stress reduction, physical fitness, suicide prevention programs, and peer support for its officers.
Chief Mueller recognized the importance of officer wellness and the positive impact it has on its officers. Administration from the Sioux City Police Department to include the Chief of Police, asked Officers Andrew Dutler and Kevin Erickson to develop a program for its officers and civilian staff that would focus on mental health, stress-induced trauma, stress reduction, basic peer support, and overall Officer Wellness. Under Chief Muller’s command and discretion “A Guide to Survive for First Responders” was launched in early 2017. Officers Andrew Dutler and Kevin Erickson trained every member of our department. Sergeant Zach Lewis has taken lead on training supervisors on the diffusing process to be implemented after a stressful or traumatic call.
Throughout the course of 3.5 years, the Sioux City Police Department’s progressive approach towards Officer Wellness has been an example of what agencies should be doing on this front. The current policy, Personnel Support and Critical Incident Management was redrafted by an Officer who has experience as a mental health and substance abuse counselor to better address supportive processes for officers in times of need. Command staff entrusted this policy revision to a line level Officer without interference, and fully endorsed officer-centered addendums to the document. The policy now states, under “Critical Incident Defined,” that a critical incident is, among other things, “any incident deemed to be traumatic by the affected member and/or his supervisor.” This means members of the department are not limited to seeking help or utilizing peer support processes based on traditional perceptions, but rather individual experiences.
The State of Iowa requires that law enforcement officers receive a minimum of 1 hour of mental health training per year, or 4 hours every four years. The Sioux City Police Department meets or exceeds this standard every year. During the year, members of the Sioux City Police Department receive 1-2 hours of mental health training. A variety of topics have been presented to the officers and staff of the Sioux City Police Department to include, basic peer support, stress-induced trauma, suicide prevention and intervention, and most recently, abnormal psychology. In February 2019, the Sioux City Police Department partnered with Sioux City Fire Rescue and sponsored David Edwards to come the area and present his program
#CallForBackup. This was a 4-hour Suicide Prevention and Awareness training that was free to First Responders in the tri-state area. Over 125 First Responders from Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota attended the training and it received great feedback.