The Westchester County Department of Corrections will provide secondary trauma training to all its officers. The training will improve jail conditions for detainees and working conditions for officers by giving officers instruction on the best way to deal with the significant stresses of their jobs. 

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “The men and women of the Westchester DOC, under the tremendous leadership of Commissioner Spano, have some of the most challenging tasks in all of County Government. I am proud to partner with WJCS to provide this vital service to our officers. Taking care of an individual’s mental health on the job is just as important as taking care of one’s physical health.”

This innovative service will be conducted by Westchester Jewish Community Services, the County’s largest provider of licensed outpatient mental health services and a leader in offering training to first responder agencies.

Chief Executive Officer of Westchester Jewish Community Services Seth Diamond said: “WJCS is proud to work with the Westchester County Department of Corrections to offer secondary trauma training. Secondary trauma training allows First Responders and those in criminal justice agencies to better handle the extreme stresses of their jobs and allow them to more effectively serve the public.”

Secondary trauma refers to the duress an individual experiences when working with individuals who themselves are undergoing significant stress.  Those working with individuals who are constantly under stress can experience symptoms of trauma. Left untreated, secondary trauma can cause significant disruption to the lives of individuals and detract from their ability to conduct their professional responsibilities. Secondary trauma training provides techniques to deal with the emotional toll of an individual’s job, recognize the warning signs for those experiencing trauma and offers resources on where to go for help.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Joseph Spano said: “WJCS is providing a service that will benefit the entire population at the Westchester County Jail. Our department stresses the importance of the mental health of our officers and its impact on interactions with inmates, coworkers and loved ones.”

Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health Commissioner Michael Orth said: “Westchester County greatly values the importance of taking care of mental health. Secondary Trauma is one of the biggest drivers of mental health issues and our DOC officers certainly deal with a lot of it. This joint initiative between the DOC and WJCS further shows the County’s efforts to take proactive steps across the County on mental health issues.”

The training continues the progressive reforms introduced at the Corrections Department under the leadership of County Executive Latimer and Commissioner Spano. The Department of Corrections now offers 33 rehabilitative and reentry programs, designed to prepare those detained for life outside jail. The programs also create a calmer and more secure environment for detainees and officers.

First Deputy Corrections Commissioner Louis Molina said: “At the County jail, we are hard at work each day on the implementation of a wide range of programs aimed at creating an environment of responsibility, trust and cooperation. Thanks to the services provided by WJCS, these efforts will have an even larger impact.”

Secondary trauma training will be conducted by WJCS at the Valhalla Campus. The sessions, conducted by a psychologist or senior clinician, last approximately 90 minutes. Approximately 35 officers participate in each session. The sessions cover the elements of secondary trauma, techniques for self-care to deal with the stresses that are part of the officers’ jobs and where individuals can go for further assistance.