Interview with Officer Scott Marks of the Minnetonka Police Department

Last month, Aftermath offered law enforcement officers nationwide an opportunity to tell their stories and discuss  the reasons why they serve in their communities. The Why We Serve service grant also drew attention to the important causes that the officers themselves support.

For the four finalists selected, including Officer Scott Marks of the Minnetonka Police Department in Minnesota, it also meant being able to give even more to the community. At the end of the competition, Officer Marks was selected as the 1st runner up. His $1000 grant will go toward building the department’s Crisis and Mental Health Aftercare Program as well as introducing an Officer’s Wellness Program to support mental health among officers themselves. Read on to learn more about Officer Marks and his commitment to the City of Minnetonka.

Simple Beginnings

When Minnetonka’s Police Captain forwarded him an email about the Why We Serve grant in July, the Community Engagement officer jumped at the chance to participate. Marks said he’d heard of Aftermath before, Though Minnetonka officers cannot provide direct referals, Aftermath is part of a list of companies ready to assist victims of tragedy. “People have said that Aftermath provides a service that is greatly needed,” he relates.

Marks has been a police officer for nearly 20 years. “I became an officer because I thought it was exciting and challenging. I am a people person. As time went on, I’ve found different areas I’m interested in such as mental health, as these were the most impactful situations that I’ve dealt with.”

During his time with Minnetonka, Officer Marks has served in several capacities, including patrol officer and traffic unit. His current role as a Community Engagement Officer brough to his attention the need for dedicated mental health services and followup programs.

Providing for Mental health

Marks relates that he was compelled to share his story in hopes of drawing attention to the mental health crisis in Minnetonka and elsewhere. “Many of the calls that we receive are mental health calls. We also receive other types of calls such as domestic calls that are due to mental health. A big challenge we have is figuring out how to spot those with mental health issues and determine how to help them.”

To this end, Officer Marks himself has been looking at ways to better help the community directly. “I am in school right now, getting my masters in social work. I knew crisis calls were growing so I asked for the data to be pulled and we found that they were up 314% over the last 12 years. I would like to develop after care program where we provide a visit after a crisis call to evaluate the situation and help those dealing with mental health issues. It is important to simply build a relationship with a person in this situation in order to provide them with the care they need.”

Because the program is new, the greatest need right now is for professional assistance that will help inform the program’s foundations. “We are currently looking for a partner like a university to help us analyze the number of crisis calls and determine that our program is needed for the community so that we can gain funding to get it off of the ground. We can then conduct home visits to people who have placed crisis calls to evaluate and help their mental health issues and hopefully decrease the number of crisis calls.”

Looking forward to the Future in Minnetonka

Eventually Officer Marks hopes to work directly with officers who are in need of therapy, providing peer support as well as a professional point of view. “The second part of the program is the Officer Wellness Program where we would have a culturally competent therapist helping law enforcement directly. Not only would this enable them to better help others, but it would provide much needed care in a sector that is often underserved. Officers need someone who understands law enforcement and our culture in order to be able to provide police with the mental health support we need.”

Furthermore, his hope of building a resource for mental wellness doesn’t end with Minnetonka. “If we find that this is an effective program and is really helping those in need, we would like to push it out to other departments so they can use it to help people in their communities as well.”

More Information on the Why We Serve Grant

Officer Marks expressed gratitude to Minnetonka and to all those who voted during the Why We Serve grant competition. “The city has been so supportive through the entire process, in person and on social media. We appreciate all of the attention that the grant has provided.”

Click here to read more about the Grand Prize winner, Officer Wilburn of Radford City, Virginia and his chosen charity, Help Save the Next Girl. To see Officer Marks’ winning video, visit YouTube, and be sure to check out the official Press Release on the Why We Serve grant, available in our Newsroom.