ABC News: Dayton officers using technology to treat stress, anxiety, PTSD

Original article by Christina Schaefer for ABC 22 DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT)

In the 30 years Gregory Moyer has been a police officer, he’s seen a lot, “things that come back to haunt you.” He’s a detective with Forensic Services at the Dayton Police Department and is one of 100 officers taking part in a study about stress reduction.

Gregory Moyer is a detective with Dayton Police and one of the officers participating in the study. (WKEF/WRGT)

Moyer first learned about the study during a Fraternal Order of Police meeting. The Dayton Police Department had been approached by the company that created the Alpha-Stim, a device that emits electrotherapy. After hearing the presentation, Moyer went home and signed up for it.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl has been making an increased effort during the past two years to focus on officers’ well-being, physically and mentally. “Police officers swim in a suffering,” Biehl said as he talked about the study. Anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and sleep deprivation are a real concern, he said, and are conditions that are said to be treated by Alpha-Stim.

The device is small and can be held in an officer’s hands. Attachments are clipped to the officer’s ears, which emit the electrodes. The device can be used while officers are relaxing, reading, watching TV, or working behind their desks. Before they use the device, officers have to go through training to make sure they’re using it correctly. They are then free to use it twice each day for 20 minutes.

“If we really want police officers to have a full career,” said Chief Biehl, “and be healthy when they retire, we have to invest more in wellness including mental health.” Once the study is complete, the data will be analyzed. So far, the reviews of the device have been good. Moyer said in the past he’s suffered from sleep deprivation, waking up in the middle of the night, “just literally could not get myself back to sleep.” However, since using this device, he says he’s enjoyed much better deep sleep. While he will wake up from time-to-time, he says he’s been able to get back to sleep much easier.

The technology has also been used for members of the military to help them deal with PTSD. Chief Biehl, who’s been a police officer for 40 years, said now is the time for departments to address officers’ mental health, “I have not seen a more difficult environment than exists today for police officers.”

Once the study concludes, the Dayton officers participating get to keep the device.

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