SANTA CRUZ, Calif.- On Thursday, a procession of family, friends and fellow officers will make its way to San Jose, to the HP Pavilion for a public memorial. Thousands of other well-wishers will be attending, from up and down the California coast. But we also want to explain how mental health is a big concern for the Santa Cruz community, following the loss of our two officers, last week.
On Wednesday, hundreds of people stopped by a public viewing of both caskets for detectives Sergeant Butch Baker and Officer Elizabeth Butler. County counselors said it's all part of the healing process. But it's important to reach out for help, if you feel you're in need.
About a week ago, neighborhoods turned upside down, as local law enforcement started investigating the deadly shooting of two police detectives and the hunt for their alleged killer. Santa Cruz County Health Services said some of the most fragile people who regularly need services, were traumatized.
"There's residential areas right around the lockdown area where consumers live and were certainly affected," said adult acute services program chief Pam Rogers-Wyman.
But they weren't alone, several schools were on lockdown and students had to be shuttled to a safe location for parents to pick them up.
"Its one of our main areas of critical incident response, is to any of the school programs, children, parents, staff that were involved or affected as a result of the shooting," said Rogers-Wyman.
That's when the county deployed to help the community cope and offer grief counseling. Counselors said the violence surrounding a shooting can cause a type of post traumatic stress that can hit anyone at any time. They say a lot of people were looking for someone to talk with following a very unsettling situation.
"Now it's really about providing psychological first aid to the community where you are really helping build skills and give them tools to deal with the days and weeks to come," said Rogers-Wyman.
County counselors said the fact that last week's shooting involved two police officers, creates an even more troubling mindset for some people, because it can change the way they look at community safety.