Former OHP trooper remembered in wake of unexpected death

Resources available for those who need them

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Phillip Olson

By Traci Chapman
Managing Editor

Officials have confirmed a man whose body was discovered last week behind Piedmont Police Department was a retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper.

Piedmont police investigated the discovery of Phillip Olson, 57, who was found near the police department building, located at 400 NW Edmond Road. Investigators determined Olson died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety officials said Wednesday Olson retired from OHP in October 2018. He served as a Trooper in Troop R, which is assigned to the state capitol and served a total of 29 years in law enforcement, officials said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to benefit the Olson family. Anyone wishing to contribute to that effort can do so by going online to https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-the-olson-family-in-their-time-of-grief.

As word spread of Olson’s unexpected death, fellow law enforcement officials thought about the stresses of the profession and burdens on society as a whole, particularly with the added issues caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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“Mental illness while sometimes transient, is often known by the person afflicted and by family, friends and co-workers – therefore it becomes a matter of personal commitment for all concerned to find appropriate treatment and strive to help the mentally ill become productive members of society,” Piedmont Police Chief Scott Singer said. “Resources are found through the state, private medical providers, and clergy – the more we reach out with understanding, the more we can aid in alleviating at least some of the suffering felt by all.”

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety recently began a state First Responder Wellness Division, a resource launched by Olson’s fellow OHP trooper Danny Long.

Long said he wanted to provide something to help first responders struggling with mental health issues – a resource he himself needed after dealing with the pressures associated with law enforcement and the tragedy faced by first responders. The program was designed to provide a sounding board for individuals and the resources to recognize and assist with early hints of trauma or distress.

Gov. Kevin Stitt addressed the need for the First Responder Wellness Division during his Feb. 8 State of the State Address.

“Depression and suicide does not discriminate,” the governor said.

The division is still in its early stages but has an active Facebook page, with numerous resources that include podcasts, training opportunities and information about upcoming activities and events, said Sarah Stewart, Oklahoma Highway Patrol media operations director.

“The division is working on an app that would contain information on contacting peer support, self-evaluation opportunities, as well as the ability to make an appointment with a counselor,” she said.

First Responder Wellness Division’s Facebook page is located at https://m.facebook.com/Oklahoma-First-Responder-Wellness-Division-109009551585768/.

“Is treatment a be all, end all – no,” Singer said. “But if we fail to start on the journey to help, the effects of no treatment can be seen in many cities across the U.S.

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