History

The First Ten Years

Founded in 1996, POPPA answered the call to 26 suicides between 1994 and 1995. Establishing protocols to protect officers in need of assistance, POPPA has engendered trust in its clients, replacing their isolation with an effective support network. The organization has helped many thousands of cops by mitigating the effects of trauma and accelerating recovery. Primarily, POPPA has functioned as a hotline service for active officers since the beginning. The hotline is manned 24/7 to respond to our brother and sister officers.

Virtually all of POPPA’s work since 9/11 has been focused on the trauma and stress experienced by police officers in the wake of the Twin Towers collapse. Having connected thousands of officers with the right kind of help from mental health professionals, POPPA has been instrumental in both the recovery and prevention of suicides amongst New York’s Finest. Additionally, POPPA’s efforts have been recognized and ongoing support has been established between New York City and the NYPD. Overall, POPPA’s innovative concepts have changed police culture forever.

Over the years, our efforts have supported officers suffering PTSD as a result of 9/11. The ceremonies marking the anniversary of 9/11 did not bring closure for officers who had worked at Ground Zero. Because 9/11 had no precedents, its after effects cannot be predicted and the after affects are still being felt across those who served at Ground Zero. The forces of stress and other problems that existed before 9/11, The Oklahoma City Federal Building Bombing and other magnified traumatic events have increased officer suicides by a ratio of three to 1,000; divorce rates have jumped 300 percent, misconduct rose by 80 percent and alarming developments continue to emerge after the 1995 bombing.

We are the “Helpers Helping the Helpers” to be resilient and able to care not only for the citizens of NYC, but to also care for themselves.

POPPA Today

Our services of intervention, prevention, self-care and resiliency have grown to a volunteer network that includes approximately 200 active and retired uniformed members as Peer Support Officers (PSO). They are dedicated to providing a confidential, safe and supportive environment for police officers. POPPA maintains a network of 120 clinicians skilled at working with police officers who receive our client referrals. At any given time, about 35 officers in crisis situations are receiving support from POPPA’s clinician referral network.

Consistently redesigning its services to meet the needs of our clientele, in 2002 POPPA implemented teams of two PSO’s and a clinician to attend training at precincts and unit commands, including the range and Police Academy to present all the POPPA services and programs available. PSO training includes alcohol intervention and suicide prevention. This evolved into our Resiliency Support Program that educates officers about stress, trauma and the self-care necessary to bounce back from their intense job situation.

Our 911 experience has helped POPPA implement a very active Trauma Response Team (TRT), which responds within 4 hours of notification to the command of a traumatic situation. TRT team members are on call for a 24 hour period and assist officers in an immediate defusing of the event. The information disseminated to them allows the MOS to understand the “normal reaction to an abnormal situation”. Once again they are reminded that our services are 100% confidential and we are there to help them to remain in a state of balance under difficult circumstances.

In 2006 we established the Retiree Hotline with 26 dedicated volunteers who also have a designated hotline utilizing similar protocols as the active hotline. We have created teams of retirees not just in the NYC tri-state area but also around the country in Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and other areas in the continental US.

POPPA is helping to change the way cops think about reaching out for help. It is redefining a call for support as a sign of strength, not weakness. Our goal is to let NYPD officers know that they are not alone. POPPA truly cares about their overall well-being and is ready 24/7 to lend an ear to prevent undue stress from becoming an impediment to future success.