Friday, June 14, 2024

Mental health advocate weighs in on long term impacts of April 29 tragedy

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city of Charlotte is still mourning after four officers were killed and four others injured while serving a warrant.

It’s a task that’s done routinely, but this time, had an outcome you hope never becomes reality.

While funerals for the fallen have concluded, how do we move forward after such tragedy?


What You Need To Know

  • Mental health advocate, Fonda Bryant, said CMPD officers will continue to heal from the trauma of April 29 for years to come
  • “The minute they put on that uniform, it’s not a uniform. It’s a uniform of trauma, anger, hate, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress… that’s the uniform they put on every day,” said Bryant
  •  Bryant hopes to change the mindset of mental health surrounding law enforcement through QPR training

Fonda Bryant is a mental health advocate, and when she isn’t standing on the corner of Mint. St in Charlotte promoting mental health awareness, she’s training rookie officers for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).

“I’m standing out there as vulnerable as I can be, letting people know not only do I have a mental health condition, but attempted suicide,” said Bryant. “If that’s going to get somebody to say, ‘Hey, if she can do it, I shouldn’t be ashamed,’ or if it gets somebody to say, ‘I’m going to get the help I need,’ then it’s worth standing out there.”

Bryant also teaches CMPD officers the important mental health warnings that come with the job. She does that through QPR, or question persuade refer training.

“I knew those officers had just graduated on the 19th, and they’ve been out there like less than two weeks. So I was really concerned, like a mother,” said Bryant.

From class 197 and so forth, she said, each class holds a different meaning.

“I always read this to everybody. ‘If we accomplish just one thing in teaching you QPR, it will be to recognize your fear about this subject and to overcome that fear so you can take quick, bold action to save a life,” said Bryant.

However, she said no training could’ve prepared them for what unfolded April 29.

“During QPR training, some of y’all are going to see trauma your very first day or your very first week out there. No matter what I told them about, you know, start finding those good coping skills to put in your mental health toolbox. You can never really prepare them for that,” said Bryant.

She said the trauma many of them will live with will last, and as they answer more calls, it’ll only get worse.

“The minute they put on that uniform, it’s not a uniform. It’s a uniform of trauma, anger, hate, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress… that’s the uniform they put on every day,” said Bryant.

She said as those calls come in, she’ll be there to train the officers on what to do next. Something she hopes brings awareness for years to come.

“Each class I train as they rise through the ranks of the CMPD, become lieutenants, majors, captains and one of them probably are going to be the chief of police one day, is that one of those officers that train, when they become the chief of police, they’re going to make mental health a priority,” said Bryant.

Bryant will train the next round of CMPD rookies on September 11.

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