4-13 Peer Support

Policy Type:  Local

Responsible Office:  Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department          

Initial Policy Approved:  6/13/2022

Current Revision Approved:  6/13/2022


The purpose of this directive is to establish guidelines for the Peer Support program for all members of the VCU Police Department (VCUPD). The goal of peer support is to provide all employees the opportunity to receive emotional and tangible support through times of personal or professional crisis and to anticipate and address potential difficulties. Receiving support from the highest levels within an organization helps a peer support program to work effectively.

Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive.  Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action.  Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any policy violations are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated.


  1. A Peer Support Team Member (PSTM) is a specifically trained colleague, not a counselor or therapist. A PSTM is trained to provide both day-to-day emotional support for department employees as well as to participate in a department’s comprehensive response to critical incidents. PSTM’s are trained to recognize and refer cases that require professional intervention or are beyond their scope of training to a licensed mental health professional.
  2. To increase the level of comfort and openness in PSTM contacts, assurances can be made that such information will be protected. There are three levels of nondisclosure of personal information to differentiate in this context:
    1. Privacy is the expectation that the disclosure of personal information is confined to or intended only for the PSTM.
    2. Confidentiality is a professional or ethical duty for the PSTM to refrain from disclosing information from or about a recipient of peer support services, barring any exceptions recommended to be disclosed at the outset.
    3. Privilege is the legal protection of an individual against being compelled to disclose communications in certain protected relationships. Virginia offers legal privilege for accredited certified Peer Support Teams. VALEAP team members fall under Virginia Code Section 19.2-271.4.
      1. Note: Members of the VCU Peer Support Team do not afford Privilege under the Code of Virginia.

Team Member Selection/Deselection

  1. PSTMs are designated by the Chief of Police.
  2. PSTMs may be sworn or civilian.
  3. Of the team members, the Chief of Police will designate a Peer Support Coordinator.
    1. The Peer Support Coordinator reports directly to the Chief of Police.
  4. A team member may lose their position on the Peer Support Team for:
    1. Breach of confidentiality;
    2. Failure to attend training; or
    3. Loss of good standing with the VCU Police department.


  1. Formal requests for the Peer Support Team are made to and fulfilled by the Chief of Police.
  2. Department staff can also request peer support directly from a PSTM.
  3. Individuals being offered peer support may voluntarily accept or reject peer support.
  4. After a large-scale event, the Chief of Police may activate the Peer Support Team to conduct a critical incident debriefing to discuss the impact, if any, the event had on staff.
  5. Confidentiality Measures:
    1. PSTM may not provide information obtained through peer support contact to employee’s supervisors or fellow peer support members. PSTM are encouraged to educate employee supervisors on the confidentiality guidelines established by the department.
    2. PSTM shall not keep written formal or private records of supportive contacts other than anonymous statistical information that can help to document the general productivity of the program.
    3. PSTM are required to sign a confidentiality agreement, indicating their agreement to maintain confidentiality as defined above.


VCU Police utilize additional resources which include but are not limited to VCU Counseling Services and VCU Health Chaplain’s Program. The Peer Support Team has the ability to consult and refer with VCU Counseling Services, which is comprised of qualified, professional, licensed mental health professionals.

  1. Virginia Law Enforcement Assistance Program (offers peer counseling to Virginia law enforcement officers)
    1. http://valeap.org/
    2. *Refer to the “Contact Us” webpage for most current departmental contacts.
  2. VCU Employee Assistance Program
    1. Phone: (804) 225-2131
    2. https://www.dhrm.virginia.gov/employeebenefits/employee-assistance
  3. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield
    1. Member Services: 1-855-223-9277
    2. anthemeap.com
  4. CopLine (confidential 24-hour international hotline monitored by retired law enforcement officers)
    1. 24-Hour Hotline: 1-800-COPLINE (267-5463)
    2. copline.org
  5. Safe Call Now (confidential 24-hour crisis referral service for public safety personal.)
    1. Phone: (206) 459-3020
    2. safecallnowUSA.org
  6. International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (provides leadership, training and education and support for crisis intervention and disaster behavioral health services).
    1. 24-hour hotline: (410) 313-2473
    2. icisf.org
  7. First Responder Support Network (provide support to first responders and their families)
    1. Phone: (415) 721-9789
    2. frsn.org
  8. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (nation’s largest mental health organization)
    1. Help Line: 800-950-6264
    2. nami.org/Support-Education
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Treatment Locator Services
    1. Phone: 800-662 HELP (4357)
    2. findtreatment.samhsa.gov

Revision History

None – New Policy