Norfolk police to spend $750K on mental health, homeopathic treatments and massages for officers
Electromagnetic field therapy. Biofeedback scans. Infrared saunas.
These are among the many “wellness services” Norfolk’s Police Department hopes will to help keep and attract officers. And it’ll spend more than three-quarters of a million dollars to do it.
The city has struggled to hire and retain officers. Officials have been talking about the difficulties for years.
Earlier this year, the city gave department-wide raises. Recruiting posters for Norfolk PD have shown up as far as New York City public transit.
But the department has so many empty jobs that in July the city announced police administrators and officers assigned to specialty units would be picking up patrol shifts.
A spike in deadly gun crime has intensified scrutiny of the understaffed department. Former Police Chief Larry Boone abruptly retired without giving a reason earlier this year.
The new request is meant to bolster the fringe benefits available to officers in the hopes that some will be persuaded to stay.
The $753,000 request from Norfolk’s interim police chief is split into two categories.
The first is for mental health services specifically geared toward first responders. That includes things like a 24/7 crisis intervention hotline, referrals to providers and training.
The other part means contracting with the Renova Center, a holistic wellness center in Norfolk’s NEON District.
City documents say the Renova Center will provide “daily personal fitness training, weekly biofeedback scans and mental reframing” as well as regular “holistic wellness treatments” customized for first responders.
The documents list several alternative medical treatments that will be provided, like electromagnetic field therapy sessions and infrared saunas. The list also includes chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy.
The Renova Center advertises a wide range of treatments that it says can address post-traumatic stress disorders, aging, pain and injuries.
Most doctors criticize the use of homeopathic remedies as a replacement for standard medical treatments.
City documents don’t detail how the $753,000 is split between the two services.
Norfolk's City Council unanimiously approved the additional spending at it's meeting Tuesday without discussion.
Interim Police Chief Michael Goldsmith and other city officials did not respond to calls from WHRO on Monday.