UWO police captain develops mobile wellness app for law enforcement, hopes to save lives

A leader with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Police Department has developed a mobile application designed to help law enforcement officers who are impacted by the significant stresses of the job.

Capt. of Police Chris Tarmann said the free app he developed will provide a listing of mental health services for law enforcement professionals across the state, available at any time of day or night.

Tarmann created the mobile app through a partnership with AppArmor Safety as part of a personal project as a member of Class No. 7 of the Wisconsin Command College—a nationally accredited leadership and management development training program offered through the Wisconsin Department of Justice and University of Wisconsin. He expects the app to go live this fall.

Tarmann said his mission is simple: save law enforcement lives.

“When a person signs up for a position in law enforcement they’re making a lifestyle change,” Tarmann said. “It’s not a job, it’s not a career—it’s a new lifestyle. Police officers, correctional officers, probation and parole agents, deputies and so many others who work in this field ‘own’ everything they experience and they think they can’t show weakness or people will question whether they can handle the stress of the job.

“The app is a bridge built to connect law enforcement personnel to vetted and trusted resources 24/7/365 and it’s being built by a team of law enforcement professionals and partners who work closely with law enforcement,” he said.

Set to go live this fall, the app will have information and resources specifically meant to support police personnel and expand as a resource for anyone in a law enforcement field. It will provide ways to connect directly to peer support resources, chaplains and mental health professionals. Proactive wellness resources specifically geared for law enforcement personnel are built directly into the app focusing on nutrition, physical wellness, stress, sleep and spirituality.

“This generation of officers and their families are facing unprecedented challenges,” said Wisconsin Law Enforcement Death Response (LEDR) team coordinator and Appleton police chief Todd Thomas said. “If we don’t take care of the caregivers, they can’t take care of the rest of us. This app will give this generation immediate, free, reliable and confidential resources at the tip of their fingers—something they are accustomed to having.”

Law Enforcement personnel work around the clock and it’s often difficult to schedule appointments with wellness providers because they are working during the week or on third shift when it’s nearly impossible to get connected to a resource.

According to bluehelp.org there have been 819 law enforcement suicides in the U.S. since 2016, with 2019 being the highest year at 228 deaths.

Thomas said the app will be a “game changer” for law enforcement because the majority work for agencies that can’t afford or don’t have access to proper resources. The LEDR team will have oversight of the app and donors can go to LEDR to fund the app going forward.

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UW Oshkosh Police