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Blue H.E.L.P. Conference
Event Starts:
Monday October 9, 2017
@ 8:00am

Event Ends:
Tuesday October 10, 2017
@ 4:00pm


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Sturbridge Host Hotel

366 Main St.
Sturbridge, MA 01566

(508) 347-7393

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New England Regional H.E.L.P. Conference

Honor. Educate. Lead. Prevent.

October 9-10, 2017

Sturbridge Host Hotel

Sturbridge, MA

$50 Total Registration Fee


In 2016, 140 police and corrections officers completed suicide – 17 from Massachusetts and Connecticut. We want to bring this issue to the forefront through education, awareness and acknowledgement. Join us as we provide you with tools to take back to your departments and begin to reduce these numbers. 


Speakers and Topics

Master Resiliency Training, Joe Willis

As a retired Military Police First Sergeant, Joe Willis will share some of his personal experience dealing with suicide, gestures, attempts, and ideations with the men and women he served with over a 20-year military career.  He’ll talk about some of the programs the military used throughout his career, focusing primarily on the one that worked the best – and it wasn’t a suicide prevention program.  He’ll close out his presentation with brief introduction to some of our partner organizations who are postured and ready to help organizations throughout the country before, during, and after a suicide event.


Joe is the Director of Business Development for Team One Network – an international training company based out of Fredericksburg, VA. He retired from the United States Army as a Military Police First Sergeant in the summer of 2016 after more than 20-years of service. His last few military assignments include; Operations Sergeant Major for a Combined Arms Training Brigade, Senior Enlisted Advisor and Tactics Instructor for the Department of Military Science at West Point, Equal Opportunity Program Manager for the United States Military Academy, and First Sergeant for a Military Police Initial Entry Training Company. Throughout his career he served in back to back leadership assignments that provided him with an opportunity to lead and train organizations of various sizes throughout the United States, South Korea, Honduras, Germany, and Iraq. Other assignments included; Law Enforcement Operations Sergeant, Special Reaction Team Commander, and Investigator. Learn more about Joe and the VennLeader Model at www.VennLeader.com.



Strengthening the Core: Building and Protecting Your Natural Resilience – Althea Olson, LCSW and Mike Wasilewski, LSW

This presentation has a dual focus, as we dive into two separate but connected topics:  Resilience and Confidentiality.  We will explore dynamics in law enforcement that can easily exhaust resilience among even the most psychologically sound and well-vetted among us, the very real – even life threatening – dangers they pose, how to know when you are close to empty, and the steps you can start taking immediately to replenish resilience and protect yourselves.

Next, we’ll look at the issue of cops, counseling, and confidentiality. We will examine the landmark US Supreme Court case Jaffe vs Redmond (518 U.S. 1) and its extension of privilege to the psychotherapist-client relationship, discuss protections under state and federal laws, and explore the rare but important exceptions you should know about.  We will explain why EAPs are your friend and not to be feared!  And we will discuss the crucial differences between counseling and “Fitness-for-Duty” evaluations, how to tell the difference if counseling is ever mandated, and what you should expect from each.


Combining 23 years of marriage, a police couple’s unique worldview, and insights gleaned from over two decades of a therapist’s broad clinical experience, Althea and Mike have been writing about and teaching the Survival Skills Beyond the Street. These skills are crucial to surviving not just the physical dangers of law enforcement, but the much more insidious threats to officers’ emotional, relational, and professional health.  Together they have authored or coauthored over 300 articles for leading law enforcement publications on a variety of subjects including marriage and relationships, ethics, morale, emotional wellness, and managing trauma.  Their current passion is promoting the “Stigma Free” approach to mental illness and healing through education and enlightenment, and staying up-to-date with the rapidly growing body of mental health research and science.

Althea Olson, LCSW has been in private practice in the Chicago suburbs since 1996 and is currently practicing at Fox Bend Counseling, Oswego, Illinois. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University and provides individual, couples, and group therapy to adolescents, adults, and geriatrics.  She has received extensive advanced training in cognitive behavioral therapy and mental health law.

Officer Mike Wasilewski, LSW has worked for a large suburban Chicago department since 1996. He holds a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University and has served on his department’s Crisis Intervention (CIT) & Domestic Violence teams, and is currently a Hostage/Crisis Negotiator.  He has recently joined Fox Bend Counseling providing individual and couples counseling to adolescents and adults.


Police Work, Post-Traumatic Stress and Suicide – Janice McCarthy, Suicide Widow

This training addresses the unique challenges faced by First Responders in maintaining their emotional health in a caustic and deadly work environment. Janice McCarthy relates her family’s experience of witnessing her husband Paul’s struggle with job-induced PTSD. She explains how barriers such as mental health stigma, politics and police culture made it impossible for Paul to get the help that he needed. Janice also discusses the importance of utilizing good coping skills and warns of the danger of harmful or nonexistent coping skills. She uses examples of her family’s trauma to engage the audience, imploring them to utilize self-introspection to maintain wellness by acknowledging their own trauma and avoiding the deadly trap of denial. Janice stresses peer support, eradication of stigma and top down ownership of emotional well-being from administrators. She provides a no nonsense look at the tragic effect this career can have on an officer and his family and the tools officers need to avoid that tragedy.


Janice McCarthy’s husband, Paul, died from suicide in July of 2006. Paul was a well-respected Massachusetts State Police Captain. During his 21-year career he suffered three serious line of duty accidents, which proved to be the etiology of his PTSD. Janice uses Paul’s story to illustrate the need for all officers to reach out for mental health assistance without fear of repercussion. She calls for an end to the age-old stigma of asking for help. She clearly articulates how the “good old boy – suck it up” mentality was instrumental in fueling her husbands’ deterioration.  Janice is a board member of Badge of Life, a nonprofit organization which promotes psychological survival for first responders. She is a recipient of The Commendable Service Award from the City of New Haven Connecticut and the Departmental Award of Education from the New Haven Connecticut Police Department for her devotion to the cause of suicide prevention and PTSD awareness in law enforcement. She is the founder of C.O.P.S.S. (Caring of Police Suicide Survivors), which is a nonprofit foundation formed in her husband’s memory and dedicated to their children Christopher, Paul and Shannon.


Hope and Recovery for Cops – Retired Boston Police Sgt. Brian Fleming

Brian draws on his sobriety journey to provide resources and methods that work best with cops and why. Not only for addiction, but for all aspects of mental health that, as cops, we don’t want to admit for fear of being “outcast” or “ostracized”. He will also provide details of his partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the online “Peer Support Quiz” and how it can be implemented at your department.


Retired after 32 years with the Boston Police Department, Brian held the following positions: Supervisor Special Ops, Department Rangemaster, Director Boston Police Peer Support Unit and Academy Instructor and has been in continuous recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. As Peer Support Director, he oversaw the largest mental health intervention in department history after the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Brian co-founded the LEADER program at McLean Hospital, where he is currently the Outreach Coordinator. Brian also founded Peer Support Services, LLC. which provides training for Law Enforcement.


Ripples in the Pond….Surviving Traumatic Stress – Steve Hough and Jeffrey McGill, Former Okaloosa County, FL Violent Fugitive Task Force

Working with the US Marshal Fugitive Task Force, Steve and Jeff were partners and friends for ten years when the words “officer down” were spoken on the radio.  One of them was shot multiple times, but both of them carry scars from that day, and they are not the only ones.  You will have the opportunity to hear from the officers who had a front row seat to a psychological experiment that continues even today and figure out how they went from shots fired to a new normal.  This training will address the far reaches of a critical incident and what officers, supervisors, trainers, and families need to know about traumatic stress.


Jeffrey McGill began his law enforcement career in the military, serving as a Security Police Officer. Following four years of military service, he entered civilian law enforcement at the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office where he stayed full time for 15 years. During his time with the Sheriff’s Office Jeff also spent six years assigned as a Task Force Officer for the US Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force based in Pensacola, FL. He is now a full time Training Coordinator/Instructor for the police academy located on the Northwest Florida State College. Jeff is a member of ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association). He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology from Troy University and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University. He is currently a PhD student at Nova Southeastern University. 

Steven Hough is a 20-year veteran of Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office; during his time with the Sheriff’s Office Steven also spent seven years assigned as a Task Force Officer for the US Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force based in Pensacola, FL. While serving a warrant with the task force Steven was shot numerous times, including once in the face. As a result of his actions, Steven was awarded the Congressional Badge of Bravery, United States Marshal’s Purple Heart, and the Medal of Valor from Santa Rosa County. Steven has since retired from the sheriff’s office and is now a full time Training Coordinator/Instructor for the police academy located on the Northwest Florida State College. Steven earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology from Troy University and is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University. Steven is a member of ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association).


Officer Wellness and Safety: An Intentional Priority – Chief Mike Goldstein, Plymouth, MN

The presentation will identify a call to action for public safety leaders to adopt comprehensive wellness programming; whereby, prudent provisions are made to best protect and enhance the physical, mental and spiritual health of their personnel.  As such, a greater degree of resiliency will result allowing personnel to better cope with the acute and chronic stress that this work life generates.  Sitting idle on this matter is not an option.  Instituting appropriate wellness programming is imperative for the long-term health of the public safety workforce.  Healthy public safety personnel will deliver better services to the community, will be more productive and will over the course of time, cost organizations less.


In 1990, Mike started his formal career as a police officer with the City of Plymouth, MN. In 2004, after rising through the ranks, Mike was appointed to Chief of Police and to Emergency Management Director for the City of Plymouth. In 2015, Mike was appointed to Director of Public Safety for the City where he leads both the police and fire departments.  Mike is the President for the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, is a past President for the Hennepin County Police Chiefs Association and participates in several other law enforcement-related committees including the State of Minnesota’s Violent Crime and Coordinating Council (past Chair) and the Twin Cities Security Partnership Board of Directors.  Mike is also on the Board of Directors for three non-profits: Public Safety Ministries Incorporated, Boy Scouts of America’s Northern Star Council and Missions Incorporated. Mike has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Arts Degree in Public Safety Education and Administration both from the University of St. Thomas. He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas and an assistant high school football coach at Providence Academy.

Body Armor: The Wellness Initiative– Corporal John Pfaehler, Rockville, MD

Wellness within the law enforcement community has long been an overlooked, yet critical element to officer survival.  But wellness needs to go beyond simply physical fitness.  We need to develop programs that address all aspects of well being.  In this session, you will hear about a comprehensive initiative that covers a broad range of aspects, including physical, mental, financial, and legal.  You will learn how, on a tight budget and a little extra effort, this program developed and how partnerships were the keys to its success.  Afterwards, you will be ready to start or enhance your agency's much needed wellness program.


John Pfaehler is a police corporal with the Rockville Police Department.  John has been in law enforcement for over 24 years starting his career in Pennsylvania. He moved to the West Coast where he served as park police officer in California before heading to Maryland.  During his career, John has been a field training officer, a firearms instructor, a Taser instructor, and a canine handler.  His specialties include tactical medicine and patrol response to active shooter incidents.  John has received several awards from state and local organizations including his agency's second highest award, the Distinguished Service Citation, five times.  In 2009, he was the City of Rockville's nominee for the American Legion Officer of the Year.  John initiated and developed his agency’s wellness program following his own personal struggles.  It is one of the most comprehensive initiatives in the state of Maryland.  He has presented at the 2016 C.O.P.S. National Conference on Officer Wellness and Trauma and the 2017 National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund inaugural Destination Zero National Conference.


American Addiction Centers

Massachusetts Police Association

McLean Hospital LEADER Program

Big Y Markets

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