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SLCPD hires its first full-time mental health counselor for officers

The Salt Lake City Police Department has hired its first full-time mental health clinician to assist officers.

The Salt Lake City Police Department has hired its first full-time mental health clinician to assist officers. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Police Department has hired its first full-time licensed clinical mental health counselor.

Jaime Welch, who has 25 years of counseling experience and specializes in treating first responders who are suffering from mental or emotional trauma — possibly because they were just involved in an officer-involved critical incident — was hired in September to become the department's mental health clinician.

Before, officers who needed counseling would have to call a third-party provider and arrange a time to meet. Welch, who has an office inside the Public Safety Building, will be available 24-7 for Salt Lake City police officers needing support. In a video produced by the department and posted to YouTube, Welch, who has been working with police since 2018, said if there is an officer-involved shooting in the middle of the night, for example, she will be available to go to the scene and talk to the officer involved before that officer even goes home.

"I'm passionate about you knowing that it's OK not to be OK sometimes. It's OK and normal to experience anxiety out of nowhere and you don't know why or any other of those symptoms. It's a normal experience and no officer should have to feel like he has to deal with it, or she has to deal with it, all alone," she said.

Welch is licensed by the state to practice mental health therapy. Her new role also includes being the coordinator for the department's employee wellness program and the peer support program, which also help first responders cope with traumatic experiences and the stress that comes with the job.

"We are so proud to welcome Jaime Welch to our Salt Lake City Police family. Jaime brings counseling expertise in the fields of trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide prevention, first responder treatment and crisis management. Jaime is adaptable, creative and her passion is serving first responders. She brings a deep desire to help others in law enforcement," Chief Mike Brown said in a prepared statement.

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