New app aims to help law enforcement

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 4:19 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Law enforcement officers across the state now have access to mental health resources at their fingertips. A smartphone app created by a police captain with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Police Department went live late last week.

Six months after coming up with the idea for the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Guardians app, Captain Chris Tarmann says, in the first week it’s been available for download, reviews have been good.

According to Tarmann, “We’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s awesome and it’s funny, because until you get in there you don’t really realize how much resources are built into this app.”

The idea behind the app is to give law enforcement, nearly immediate access, to physical and mental health resources.

“It bridges our cops to chaplains. It bridges our cops to peer support. It bridges our cops to providers across Wisconsin, so we actually have a vetted list of 100 to 150 health care providers, chiropractors, doctors, mental health professionals,” adds Tarmann.

The app is just another tool for law enforcement to use, only this time for their own health and well-being.

John Wallschlaeger if a retired police officer. He says, “They witness, their lifetime in their career, far more than anyone else in terms of some of the real tragedies in that occur in our communities.//They take little bits and pieces of those calls with them wherever they get and eventually their cup gets full and they have to learn how to unpack it and if they don’t unpack it, it really starts to eat them from the inside.”

Downloaded more than 600 times, since the first of the month, local law enforcement see the value in the app and the good it can bring to them when they’re feeling vulnerable.

“Because of the confidential aspect of just being able to click something on your phone, there’s not a phone call you’re having to make, there’s not a list you’re having to retrieve from somewhere,” says Officer Meghan Cash from the Appleton Police Department. She adds, “I think just the ease of it being so simple is going to allow officers to feel that they can talk about it.”

Targeted for those working in law enforcement, whether it be on the road, in a prison, for dispatch, among others, Tarmann says this is just the beginning and he anticipates expanding the app to help friends and relatives of those in law enforcement too.

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