HOPA going strong after nearly one year

Tom Kennedy

Houston Officers Peer Assistance (HOPA) is providing a much-needed service as it approaches its one-year anniversary of police officer/counselors providing a free counseling service to help officers with the job-related stresses in today’s policing world.

“HOPA turns a year old in June,” HPOU 2nd Vice President Joe Gamaldi said. “We’ve helped a growing number of officers with our 15 highly trained counselors.

“These counselors will undergo refresher training in May. Each of them has over 25 years as an HPD officer. They have been through shootings, divorce and each of the other stresses that officers face on a daily basis. They are subject matter experts.”

HOPA counselors, who are sworn to confidentiality, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All an officer has to do is call 832-200-3499. All calls are completely anonymous.

Established as a nonprofit organization, HOPA is managed by a board of directors and operates independently from the Houston Police Department. It is funded solely by donations and draws no money from the department.

“Peer support has been shown to be a valuable asset in helping officers deal with the trials and tribulations of both work and the hardships it places on families,” Gamaldi explained.

Houston has lagged behind other major cities in establishing a peer support team. Departments with active teams have seen a reduction in civilian complaints, use of force incidents, divorces, suicides and on-the-job injuries.

To reach HOPA, call 832-200-3499.