ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — November 5th marks two years since a traffic stop took the life of Rockford Police Officer Jaimie Cox.
On November 5th, 2017, just after 1 a.m., Officer Cox’s watch ended near E. State Street and Dawn Avenue when he pulled over Eddie Patterson.
A police inquest showed that, after Cox pulled him over for driving with a revoked license and expired plates, Patterson attempted to drive off with Cox still entangled with the vehicle.
Cox shot and killed Patterson before being killed in the subsequent crash.
Traces of cocaine and marijuana were found in Patterson’s system.
Losing the young officer left a permanent mark on the officers of the Rockford Police Department.
While the death of a fellow cop alone is traumatizing for police, that isn’t the only stress they say they deal with on the job.
Since the death of Officer Cox, more work is being done to help with officers’ mental health.
“You deal with it as a family and you move on, never forgetting the sacrifices and the hard work of the individual who was taken too early and tragically,” said Deputy Chief John Pozzi.
To help deal with Cox’s death, several Rockford officers started a trauma support group.
“Our peer-to-peer group has evolved out of the Jaimie Cox tragedy, which is a group of officers who provide assistance, sometimes just an open ear to officers who are facing tragedy, whether it’s immediate or something that is residual, such as the loss of Officer Cox,” Pozzi said.
Experts say talking with someone after they experience a trauma helps them cope.
“The stigma is starting to get broken down, where it’s okay to not be okay,” said Brad Lindmark, with the Greg Lindmark Foundation. “It’s our right to seek help.”
Retired Rockford Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark committed suicide in 2015. The foundation in his name says they’ve seen an increase in first responders seeking mental health therapy.
“There’s been a slight raise in people using our services in the last 3 to 4 months,” Lindmark said. “It gets bigger all the time, but it has been an uptick, unfortunately, in officers that need to use our services.”
The foundation’s mission is to encourage more officers to seek counseling.
“That was one of our original missions of our foundation, to break that stigma. It’s okay to get help. It doesn’t mean you’re bad. It doesn’t mean you’re going to lose your badge. It’s like I said, more important than your physical health,” Lindmark said.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara released a statement Tuesday, honoring not only Officer Cox’s sacrifice, but all those who serve the city, saying in part, “Public safety is my top priority as your Mayor. I hope you’ll join me in recognizing our men and women in blue and continue to support them in the vital work they do each and every day.”
In the last 100 years, Cox was the 7th Rockford Police Officer to be killed while on duty.
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