Casper Police Department Receives $100,000 Grant for Mental Health Services
September 27, 2021. That was the night that Casper stood still, as it was announced that Casper Police Lieutenant Danny Dundas had taken his own life.
Immediately, tributes began pouring in, speaking to both the heart and the character of Lieutenant Dundas. The Casper Police Department parked his patrol vehicle outside of their station and it was soon adorned with flowers, letters, and people just wanting to say goodbye.
Read More: PHOTOS: Tributes Already Pouring in For Fallen Casper Police Lieutenant Danny Dundas
Eventually, after the tributes and the condolences and the well-wishes for those whom were left behind, the next question became: Why does this happen?
And the answer is...not an easy one.
In December of 2021, just a few months after the news about Lt. Dundas, the Douglas Police Department announced that one of their men, Officer Michael Ableman, had taken his own life as well.
These are just two examples, of many, that show the toll that this job has on officers. First responders are just that - the first to respond to situations that are, oftentimes, traumatic. They witness death, they witness tragedy, they put their lives on the line every single day. And oftentimes, they do it at the cost of their own mental health.
Read More: 'There Will Never Be Another Danny Dundas'
The City of Casper, and the Wyoming Department of Health, understand this, which is why the Behavioral Health Division of the Wyoming Department of Health has offered a $100,000 grant to "improve access to mental health services and support for first responders and law enforcement officers."
That's according to a memo addressed to Casper City Manager Carter Napier from Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters and Captain Richard Brown.
"The State of Wyoming notified the Casper Police Department that a $100,000 Mental Health Grant Submission to benefit first responders and law enforcement personnel was approved," the memo stated. "This award is valid for the period commencing on April 1, 2023 and ending on December 31, 2026."
According to the memo, the Casper Police Department will use these funds to host a state-wide Mental Health and Wellness Conference for first responders and law enforcement personnel in the summer of 2023.
Additionally, these funds may also be used to attend other Safety and Wellness Symposiums, as well as to provide Critical Incident Debrief training and Peer Support certification.
This grant comes from the Wyoming Department of Health, and does not require a match from the city of Casper.
The memo to Mr. Napier can be viewed here:
Video from the March 21, 2021 Casper City Council meeting can be seen below: