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Bill expands access to trauma counseling for Arizona's first responders

The bill was signed in honor of a former Phoenix police officer who took his own life after his use of deadly force weighed heavily on his mental well-being.

PHOENIX – The signing of a bill Wednesday, honoring former Phoenix Police Department officer Craig Tiger, marked the end of a difficult three-and-a-half year battle for the family he left behind.

Craig Tiger was a Phoenix police officer who was involved in an on-duty shooting in 2012.

His ex-wife, Rebecca Tiger, a retired officer herself, said the incident took a toll on Tiger and led to his suicide. She said this bill gave other first responders in the same situation the help her ex-husband desperately needed.

“It meant so much to my children, you know, for their father to be honored this way and to me, for his name to never be forgotten,” Rebecca Tiger said.

Craig Tiger took his own life in November 2014. Those close to him said his use of deadly force on the job two years prior weighed heavily on him. His former wife said the trauma led to anger issues, alcoholism, and in 2013, the DUI arrest which got him kicked off the force.

Rebecca said that though Tiger asked for help from the City of Phoenix PD, it never came.

“It wasn’t recognized. It’s a mental injury. It should be recognized the same as a physical. We have to take care of our mental well-being as well as our physical well-being as first responders because it’s a tough job. We see the worst of society and the worst of every scene,” Rebecca Tiger said.

Fueled by her family’s struggle, Rebecca pushed for change and said her motto was, “Not one more, not one more life lost to PTSD.”

Three-and-half years later, Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2502, or The Officer Craig Tiger Act. It provides Arizona’s first responders access to three dozen professional counseling visits after an on-duty traumatic event and protects their pay and benefits while they’re in treatment.

“You will always have our greatest respect and whatever trials and tribulations come your way, we will be there to support you,” Governor Ducey said to first responders Wednesday.

“I’m grateful we have come to today, that nobody will have to fight for treatment and not have to face the same stigma that Craig did,” Rebecca Tiger said.

Prior to this bill, which expands the Traumatic Event Counseling Program of 2016, only a dozen counseling visits were covered by the program.

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