According to chicago.suntimes.com, the Chicago Police Department is looking to create mandatory “employee assistance programs . . . appropriate to assist officers exposed to trauma, those who are involved in shootings, domestic violence and other stressors that have an impact on officer health and wellness.” Aside from the $3m price tag, and who gets to suck on that particular taxpayer tit, there’s one small problem . . .
“In speaking to a lot of officers, they are under the misconception that, should they seek some type of mental counseling services, that they are in jeopardy of losing their F.O.I.D. card, which we all know is a requirement of being a police officer and being able to carry a gun,” [former CPD officer and West Side Ald. Chris] Taliaferro said.
[Chief of the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Organizational Development Barabara] West replied, “That’s one of the things the reform effort is moving toward: To make sure that officers know that it’s strictly confidential, that they’re aware of all the programs we have. That they can seek the service and not feel that there will be some type of repercussions toward their careers in the future.”
Taliaferro noted that there is a box that must be checked when an F.O.I.D. is renewed. It asks applicants whether they have sought mental health treatment.
“Are you working with the state to ensure that, when an officer has to check that box, he won’t lose his F.O.I.D. card?” the alderman said.
West replied, “We will make sure we go to the state and indicate to them these are the things we are trying to reform. … We do want to make sure they are given the service without jeopardizing their careers.”
Fraternal Order of Police official Rich Aguilar urged the Police Department to clear up, what he called a “great miscommunication out there.”
“We need to get the word out to officers that going to EAP in and of itself is not going to jeopardize their job. Any officer that is treated in an out-patient capacity has absolutely no fear of losing his F.O.I.D. card. It only becomes an issue when they become an in-patient and there’s a solution for that, too,” Aguilar said.
So if you’re a Chicago police officer and you seek mental health treatment, even if it’s in-patient, you’ll be in no danger of losing your gun rights. If you’re not a Chicago police officer and you seek mental health treatment, especially if it’s in-patient, your gun rights can go bye-bye. For at least five years.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think anyone should face the loss of their gun rights without due process, period. But police are civilians. They should not enjoy any special protections for their gun rights.
And make no mistake: the possibility of losing gun rights is a serious disincentive for any gun owner with mental health care issue to seek help. Consider the law in New York [via smartgunlaws.com]:
A “mental health professional” in New York (including physicians, psychologists, registered nurses or licensed clinical social workers) is required to report to the New York Director of Community Services if, in their exercise of reasonable professional judgment, they determine that a person they are treating is “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”
That information, limited to names or other non-clinical identifying information, must then be given to the New York Department of Criminal Justice Services for the sole purpose of determining if the person is ineligible to possess firearms under state or federal law.
In short, the same gun rights protections about to be afforded Chicago police officers seeking mental health care should be extended to all Americans. Anything less is a disgrace to the concept of equal protection under the law.