By: Hellen Zaboulani
A police officer, who served for more than a decade, blew the whistle on the NYPD’s handling of officer mental-health treatment, and is now suing the city for $1 million.
As reported by the NY Post, Jonathan Oliveras, who joined the force 13 years ago says he was publicly humiliated by police supervisors after revealing to department doctors that he had been on anti-depressants. On Friday, Oliveras, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court Friday against New York City. As per a notice of claim filed in December, he is seeking $1 million in damages.
“I’m suing because they [department officials] don’t want cops to self-medicate but the job doesn’t want cops taking medication that would curb those cravings — and, so, hopefully, this can have the department revisit,” Oliveras said Friday in an interview with the Post. “The job always talks about seeking help. They post these videos, you go to for these training classes but they don’t address medication. They don’t talk about or explain or educate [that] there are medications out that can help. Instead of just being vague just telling them just seek help.”
Last year Oliveras, 41, told NYPD doctors he had been taking Prozac, which led the department to publicly strip him of his gun and badge, transferring him several times shortly thereafter. He was brave enough to come forward publicly in October 2019 with a raw narrative of the extremely stressful response from the NYPD. This was right after the NYPD had a spike in suicides by police officers, and the department was publicly advertising that overwhelmed cops should “Please reach out” for help. Oliveras says the campaign to support stressed-out officers was just “smoke and mirrors” with no real plan to help. “I would have just been better if I kept my mouth shut,” Oliveras said last year.
The agency’s Internal Affairs Bureau began a retaliation response to Oliveras’ interview with the NY Post, telling the officer that he may have violated department guidelines by speaking out publicly. This only fueled his anxiety attacks and led him to start drinking again, as per the lawsuit. To date Oliveras remains on modified duty. The lawsuit accuses the department of discrimination.
“The NYPD continues to fail when dealing with the mental health of their officers,” the cop’s attorney, John Scola said. “We hope this lawsuit will help shine light on these unlawful practices and cause other officers who are currently suffering in silence to come forward.”
The NYPD declined to comment on the suit.