CPD’s new mental health adviser comes after pair of officer suicides

In her new role with the department, Alexa James will work with CPD brass to “foster increased awareness and understanding of mental health,” Chicago police said in a statement.

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Alexa James, the chief executive of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago, said the city isn’t doing enough to address mental health concerns within the Police Department.

Alexa James

NAMI Chicago

After two Chicago police officers took their own lives last week, the Chicago Police Department announced Wednesday that they were hiring Alexa James, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago, as their senior adviser of wellness.

In her new role with the department, James will “focus on bolstering a better understanding of mental health and the resources available to members,” and work with CPD brass “to build strategy and implement changes that foster increased awareness and understanding of mental health,” Chicago police said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming Alexa James to the Chicago Police Department where she will be working with our officers to foster wellness both within the department and the broader community,” said CPD Supt. David Brown.

“This past year has proved the vital importance mental wellness has in the lives of officers and community members, and we have full confidence that Alexa is the right person to bolster a better understanding of mental health and the resources available to our officers,” Brown said.

The announcement comes less than a week after 38-year-old Officer Jeffrey Troglia fatally shot himself in the basement of his Mount Greenwood home. Days earlier, another officer, 47-year-old James Daly, killed himself at the Town Hall police station on the North Side.

Following the officers’ deaths — the 9th and 10th suicides in the department since 2018 —Brown said he was asking NAMI Chicago, where James has worked for nine years, to create a comprehensive “officer wellness strategy.”

“I am pleased to be entering this role at the Chicago Police Department to build a culture of wellness and care for our police officers, which can then be used to inform interactions with residents and communities they serve,” James said.

“This is a critical time to ensure that we are providing all the necessary resources and supports that people need for mental wellness, especially for those on the frontlines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” James said.

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