CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake police say it will take days to fully process the crime scene following the mass shooting at the Walmart off Battlefield Blvd.

For the people doing this forensic work, the detectives, and all the first responders, the trauma and stress can take a toll on their mental health. Luckily, there is help available.

The Virginia Law Enforcement Assistance Program started in 2008 following the Virginia Tech mass shooting. It offers immediate peer support which often comes in the form of defusing, a brief meeting intended to stabilize people before they go home.

VLEAP Board Member Chris Scallon told WAVY “We try to get folks within 8 hours of the incident occurring… to educate folks on the normal or common responses to these type of exposures.”

After a traumatic event like this, first responders often experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Trouble Sleeping

Scallon also said that they may also be more inclined to drink alcohol. “These are normal responses, but what we want to do is say here are some tools we can use whether it’s
meditation, counseling, destigmatizing getting help to get mental health support.”

Scallon said the group does not force its way into any active scene or investigation, nor does it want to get in the way of the officer’s natural resiliency.

“As the dust settles so to speak, we’ll start helping or providing them with ‘hey, this is some of the services we provide as you need please let us know,” Scallon said.