The officers were honored at the 25th Annual John J. McAtee Police Recognition Luncheon held recently at the Holiday Inn Southwest on Watson Road.
The law enforcement agencies represented by these officers include Creve Coeur, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Hazelwood, O’Fallon, Shrewsbury, St. Charles, St. Louis County, City of St. Louis, City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Office, and Warrenton.
The award and recognition program is named for the late John J. McAtee, an Attorney and Judge whose practice and community service exemplified his understanding of people with mental illness. He was the driving force behind efforts made by the Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri (MHA) to create law enforcement training to help officers recognize, understand, and interact with persons who have a mental illness.
McAtee also spearheaded the formation of MHA’s annual Police Recognition Awards. The event, now in its 25th year, honors officers whose compassion and dedication make a significance in the life of persons with mental illness who come to the attention of law enforcement. In 1989, the event was officially named the John J. McAtee Award, and over the years, more than 500 officers have been recognized.
Hazelwood Officer Perkins was nominated for this distinguished award by Lt. Ken Jewson, the supervisor of the department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). Officer Perkins responded to a phone call from a husband who reporter his 29-year-old wife was alone in their home and threatening to kill herself. Upon arrival at the residence, the woman told him she felt distraught, afraid, alone, at her wit’s end and that suicide was the only option. He took the time to listen, shared some of his experiences and assured her that things can get better.
Perkins continued his calm demeanor and assurances until her husband arrived. The couple then went to the hospital where he met them to check on how the family was doing. A letter from the subject to the department’s chief after the incident explained how grateful she was for his intervention.
Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri (MHA) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization concerned with the entire spectrum of mental health and mental illness. Its mission is to promote mental health and to improve the care and treatment of persons living with mental illness through advocacy, education, leadership and service. MHA is an affiliate of the national Mental Health America and a proud member of United Way of Greater St. Louis.