New program to help police officers, firefighters looking for help with addiction, depression

Boca police chief pushes for more resources

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Sean Riley was a 20 year law enforcement veteran with the San Diego Sheriff's Office, until he started using drugs.

"I was in the middle of alcoholism and drug addiction and I was indicted by the federal government for doctor shopping," says Riley.

Riley lost his job and ended up in rehab. In 2009, he created Safe Call Now , a confidential hotline for police officers and firefighters. It's an outlet for those who may be suffering just as he did.

"I was a supervisor at a treatment center and I kept seeing police, fire and corrections officers coming through the system," says Riley.

Riley introduced the program during roll-call Wednesday at the Boca Raton Police Department. The program is staffed by former law enforcement officers, some who have endured the same struggles and can point callers in the right direction.

Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander says his department needs the program.

"There's a high incidence of divorce, suicide and depression in our job and we need to recognize that and people need to seek help," says chief Alexander. 

Statistics show more police officers commit suicide every year in our country, than those that are killed in the line of duty. Riley says more than 200 officers take their lives every year.

"I'm not going to be in the position where an officer is struggling and contemplates suicide and I've not provided the resources they need. I don't want that to be on my conscience," says chief Alexander.

Boca Raton's PD is one of the first in the country to offer the hotline to his police force. The program informs callers about resources that can put their lives back on track.

"We're trained to help others and solve their problems, there's no training on how to solve our own," says Riley.


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