Law enforcement officers and first responders see a lot of trauma in their jobs that inevitably follows them home. Empac works with Wichita Police Department officers to help them better manage their stress. “Our local, non-profit employee assistance program, empac, is an excellent tool for the department,” says Officer Donielle Watson. Our employee assistance program services help law enforcement officers stay on top of their mental health. “It’s extremely critical because of the amount of trauma we see on a day-to-day basis,” Watson says. “Every officer is impacted. It’s important to take care of our own mental health so we can protect the people we are sworn to serve. If we are not well mentally, it’s hard to protect our community.”
Having a personal relationship with empac “helps me and officers open up to critical incident stress debriefing,” Watson said. Watson was born and raised in Wichita. When people ask what he does for a living, he tells them he protects the community. He wants it to be safe for everyone.
Watson is assigned to the Juvenile Intervention Unit, which he helped create. He has served as a patrol officer on the special community action team member (SCAT). Watson also is a community policing specialist, gang intelligence officer, and on the Violent Crimes Response Team. Being open to empac services helped Watson mend a relationship with his daughter. “Empac is meaningful to me because it allowed my daughter and I to reconnect. I was bringing work home (trauma and anxiety) and not realizing it,” he said.
He started the juvenile intervention unit because, “I realized a lot of kids and families involved in violent crime suffer from trauma on top of being in crime-riddled neighborhoods,” he said. Watson sees his job as rehabilitating instead of incarcerating. Watson believes rehabilitation can be done through positive interactions, education, and employment. The juvenile intervention unit reaches out and produces positive, fun videos to “try to normalize officers for the community,” he said. Watson has earned multiple awards for his work in gang and violent crime prevention. Watson was named the Crime Prevention Officer of the Year in 2019 by the Wichita Crime Commission. He was also a finalist for Officer of the Year from the Wichita Police Department in 2020. Being open to empac services helps Watson and other law enforcement officers thrive.