It didn’t surprise Chief Jack Daly or any of Sgt. Jeffrey Ward’s coworkers, but the 16-year veteran of the Southington Police Department is the 2018 recipient of the Officer Paul Buchanan memorial peer support award.
“Sgt. Ward has shown exemplary leadership in peer support, willing to do whatever it takes to see to the needs of his own personnel as well as for members of other police agencies,” officials said in a press release. “His hard work exemplifies what peer support is all about.”
Recognizing the need to establish a peer support program in Southington, Ward approached his command staff for permission to begin the process. He took the peer support training in 2016 and hit the ground running.
He developed a policy, organized interviews with prospective peer support officers, sent then to training and made sure they had CIT training, all in addition to his responsibilities as a patrol sergeant. Within a relatively short period of time, his team was responding to calls for support.
In 2017, Ward was asked if his peer team was willing to be part of a regional Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team organized by the Hartford Police Department.
“Never one to say no, Sgt. Ward took on an active role often organizing mock debriefings for additional CISM practice,” officials said in the release. “Knowing how important peers are to helping their own, he has also organized his peer support officers to be ready to respond to other critical incidents around the state.”
The award was named after East Hartford officer Paul S. Buchanan, 24-year veteran that took his life on March 12, 2013 after suffering the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He left behind a wife and two sons who grieved with members of his department and others who loved him.
Paul left a note to his family that said, “…make my death an issue so that you can help other people that are like me.”
The annual award recognizes those in the law enforcement community who have demonstrated exemplary service in support of first responder mental health.