HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. — Ken Beyer can’t think of a day in the past few months when his phone didn’t flutter with calls, text messages, and emails from a police department, a sheriff’s office, or a fire station seeking help for an employee. A patrol officer threatening to kill himself with his service weapon before roll call. A veteran firefighter drowning in vodka until he collapses. A deputy overdosing on fentanyl in his squad car.
“It’s the worst that I’ve seen in my career,” said Beyer, co-founder and CEO of Harbor of Grace Enhanced Recovery Center, a private mental health and substance use recovery and treatment center for first responders in the waterfront Maryland town of Havre de Grace. Established in 2015, Harbor of Grace is one of only six treatment centers in the U.S. approved by the Fraternal Order of Police, the world’s largest organization of law enforcement officers.
Public safety is a profession plagued by high rates of mental health and addiction problems. Considering the unrelenting pressures on first responders, Beyer said, the treatment centers can’t keep up with the demand.
Specialized recovery facilities like Harbor of Grace focus on treating law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and dispatchers — people who regularly encounter violence and death at work. In the past two years, Beyer said, the number of police officers admitted f …