Preventing Death by Suicide: A Chief-to-Chief Leadership Wellness Discussion

Suicide prevention is a major concern within law enforcement. Health and wellness programs are being created across the country to help officers and their families ensure that they will not become victims of a suicide tragedy. This virtual panel discussion will explore such prevention programs and share other avenues that address suicide prevention by engaging law enforcement leadership in their strategies and best practices.

Law enforcement chiefs from across North America will share their leadership journeys into enhancing officer wellness programs across an array of day-to-day professional services and response to critical incidents involving officer involved shootings, officer suicides, and other mental health events. The discussion will also include the impact of increasing morale and building acceptance for the concepts of creating a police family environment for all employees, volunteers, and retired personnel by demonstrating care and accepting that “it is okay not to be okay.”

A key component to this discussion is first understanding how a chief’s personal wellness leads to effective program sustainability and mental wellness stigma reduction.

As these chiefs come together to share positive risk taking and the leveraging of subject matter personnel, the panel will equip peer chiefs with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to develop a true leadership culture that is compassionate and empathetic on all mental health issues. Together we can reduce death by suicide in the law enforcement profession.


Marcia Ferranto, Chief Executive Officer, National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum

Keynote Speaker:

The Honorable Abigail Spanberger, Representative, U.S. House of Representatives


Col. Edwin Roessler, Chief of Police, Fairfax County (VA) Police Department


Chief Peter Newsham, Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Superintendent Martin Bruce, Support Services Division, Vancouver (WA) Police Department
Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala, Director, Office of Support Services, Los Angeles (CA) Police Department
Dr. Luann Pannell, Director, Police Training and Education, Los Angeles (CA) Police Department
Dr. Denise Jablonski Kaye, Police Psychologist, Los Angeles (CA) Police Department
Sergeant Joe King, Director, Boston Police Peer Support Unit, Boston (MA) Police Department
Dr. Bernie Gonzalez, Founder and Director, Boundless Leadership Consulting
Josh Goldberg, Executive Director, Boulder Crest Foundation

This program was made possible by LexisNexis Risk Solutions.


Keynote Speaker

U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger

The Honorable Abigail Spanberger
United States House of Representatives

U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger began her career in public service, first serving as a federal agent with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigating money laundering and narcotics cases, and then serving as a case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Currently, she represents Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, which is comprised of ten counties throughout Central Virginia. In the House, Rep. Spanberger serves on the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture and the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.


Col. Edwin Roessler
Chief of Police
Fairfax County (VA) Police Department

With more than 32 years veteran of law enforcement with Fairfax County (VA) Police Department, Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr. serves as their Chief of Police following his appointment on July 30, 2013. Colonel Roessler has served as a consultant with the IACP Team for many years as well as a vast array of consultant work with other national and international law enforcement agencies.

Colonel Roessler previously served as Deputy Chief of Patrol managing crime fighting efforts across all eight district stations in a county of 400 square miles serving over 1.2 million community members. One of Colonel Roessler’s first actions as police chief was to form the Chief’s Council on Diversity Recruitment. The Council engages community leaders to guide and advise the Chief and the Department’s leadership team on how to achieve recruitment goals and better represent our culturally diverse communities within the sworn, civilian, and volunteer workforce; while also creating and nurturing a robust dialogue with all communities served. The strategic plan for diversity recruitment embraces the Department’s ongoing goal of improving engagement with the community to prevent and fight crime, improve the culture of safety both internally and in the community, and to keep pace with urbanization.



Chief Peter Newsham
Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia

On May 2 of 2017, Chief Peter Newsham was sworn in as the Chief of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department after a decades-long career holding various positions of leadership within the department. Chief Newsham holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and a law degree at the University of Maryland School of Law. He is a member of the Maryland Bar.


Superintendent Martin Bruce
Support Services Division, Vancouver (WA) Police Department

Superintendent Martin Bruce began his policing career in 1987 when he joined Northern Ireland’s Royal Ulster Constabulary. He immigrated to Canada in 1993 and worked in the private security field before being hired by the Vancouver (WA) Police Department in 1995. Since that time, Superintendent Bruce has worked in Districts 2 and 3, the Gang Crime Unit, Missing Women’s Task Force and the National Weapons Enforcement Support Team (NWEST).
He was promoted to Sergeant in 2008 and was assigned to the Jail and then to the Criminal Intelligence Unit. The creation of the Organized Crime Section provided an opportunity to act as the first Staff Sergeant in the new section. On promotion to Staff Sergeant in 2013, he was assigned to District 3 followed by an assignment in the Professional Standards Section. Then, on promotion to Inspector in October 2015 he became the officer in charge of the Organized Crime Section, where he addressed gang violence and the drug trafficking that included fentanyl.

In September 2017, he was promoted to Superintendent and is currently assigned to Personnel Services, in the Support Services Division with responsibility for Human Resources, Professional Standards, Training and Recruiting.


Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala
Office of Support Services, Los Angeles (CA) Police Department

Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala is the Director, Office of Support Services for the Los Angeles (CA) Police Department. A 35-year veteran of the LAPD, she oversees two Bureaus along with Critical Incident Review Division, Fiscal Operations Division and Behavioral Science Services. The two Bureaus are Personnel and Training Bureau, and Administrative Services Bureau. The two Bureaus consist of Training Group, Police Training and Education, Personnel Group, and Support Services Group. Divisions that fall under those Groups are Training Division, Personnel Division, Communications Division, Custody Services Division, Facilities Management Division, and others that are critical in maintaining support services across the entire department. In addition, she is the Department Coordinator for LGBTQ matters and a Board Member for the Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County.


Dr. Luann Pannell
Police Training and Education, Los Angeles (CA) Police Department

Dr. Luann Pannell received a M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the School of Psychology at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, as well as a master’s degree in Theology, Cross-Cultural Studies. Dr. Pannell began her career with LAPD as a Police Psychologist in 2000 and in 2006
was promoted to Director of Police Training and Education by Chief Bratton. In this role she is responsible for the review and evaluation of all LAPD training curricula to ensure relevancy,
continuity, and compliance with State and Federal criteria and department policy. She researches best practices in police training and adult learning to continually improve and advance LAPD training. Her goal is to create a stronger foundation of skills, resiliency, and purpose for the first five years of working in law enforcement with the ultimate goal of cultivating healthy and resilient officers through increased competence, confidence, and capability to partner with diverse communities to enhance public safety.


Dr. Denise Jablonski Kaye
Police Psychologist
Los Angeles (CA) Police Department

Dr. Denise Jablonski-Kaye is passionate about attending to the health and wellbeing of LAPD employees, both sworn and civilian. She trains recruits to command staff: civilian and sworn. Training topics include building resiliency, strengthening personal relationships, growing leaders, and preventing suicide. She coordinates the Peer Support Program and Critical Incident Response Team which provides countless hours of support to the men and women of the LAPD. Over the last decade, the LAPD Peer Support Program has become a model program in law enforcement. In 2017, Dr. Jablonski-Kaye started the Resiliency Task Force to better meet the needs of employees. In September 2018, the Task Force hosted the First Annual Heart of LAPD 5K Walk to increase awareness of suicide. Addressing suicide prevention and helping officers not just emotionally survive the job, but actually thrive, has been her top priority.


Sergeant Joe King
Boston Police Peer Support Unit, Boston (MA) Police Department

Presently, Sergeant Joe King is the Director of the Boston (MA) Police Department’s Peer Support and Family Assistance Units. These Units provide assistance to all officers of all ranks and ratings, as well as their family members. The majority of services provided are geared towards assisting officers involved in critical incidents, other job-related stressors, addiction issues (theirs or family members), health and well-being, mental and emotional resiliency, and liaisons between the department and local hospitals.


Dr. Bernie Gonzalez
Founder and Director
Boundless Leadership Consulting

Dr. Bernie Gonzalez has made a career out of his core belief: that mental health and ultimate wellness is a process that begins and ends with learning to live well. He has been working with Boulder Crest Organization to create educational practices and institutional enhancements in mental wellness. Currently he is an independent consultant and a change agent supporting formal and informal positive changes within organizations and important stakeholders.

Dr. Gonzales has 28 years of experience in law enforcement with the Miami-Dade (FL) Police Department, retiring with the rank of Police Chief. He had the honor of being the Deputy Director of the Central America Police Reform Initiative (CAPRI), a regional program for the Department of State (INL). Dr. Bernie Gonzalez was responsible for the strategic planning and supervision of all programmatic assistance.


Josh Goldberg
Executive Director
Boulder Crest Foundation

Mr. Josh Goldberg leads the Boulder Crest Institute, which is focused on training veterans and first responders, and those who love, support, and guide them – to live great lives, filled with passion, purpose, connection, growth and service. The Institute develops and delivers training, technology, research and evaluation, and social and policy solutions based on the science of Posttraumatic Growth.

Mr. Goldberg joined Boulder Crest in June 2014. He led Boulder Crest’s efforts to develop the first program ever designed to cultivate and facilitate Posttraumatic Growth (the Warrior PATHH program), co-authored Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma, with Boulder Crest’s Founder and Chairman, Ken Falke, and has trained tens of thousands of active duty service members, veterans and their family members, and civilians in how to live great lives.

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