Pasadena Police Department Fights Mental Illness


For Pasadena Fire Fighter Scott Henderson, his career has had its share of traumatic memories that can be triggered with a sound or a smell.

Henderson understands that talking about his feelings and being aware of his own levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can help manage his high stress career. But for many of his brothers and sisters with careers as a first responder, this isn’t always the case.

“It’s not something we always talk about, but it’s something you can see in people’s eyes and in their face,” Henderson said. “I know it’s OK to talk about these things, but not everyone does. There’s a stigma that if you feel these things, you can’t handle this job. But that’s not true. The question is, how do you handle it when you go home?”

Henderson found an emotional outlet through boxing at Villa Park Boxing Club, along with fellow boxer and Pasadena Police officer, Brian Petrella.

Last year, the two had a friendly competition pitting Pasadena Police versus Pasadena Fire that brought friends and colleagues together for one night of boxing. The success of the fight between the two agencies was what prompted this year’s inaugural Mental Health Charity Boxing Event.

This year, in hopes of raising money to bring awareness to mental health for first responders, Henderson has partnered with Villa Park Boxing Gym to create a family friendly evening that will raise money for the non-profit organization Next Rung, whose mission is to raise awareness and provide resources for fire, Emergency Medical Services and police personnel.

The Battle for Mental Health Charity Boxing Event will have food trucks, a live band, vendors and nonprofits offering services for mental health. Boxing exhibitions will begin at 3:00 p.m. with youth boxing from Villa Park Boxing Club and following will be the first responder fights between Los Angeles County Sheriff, Cal Fire, U.S. Border Patrol, Pasadena Police Department and Pasadena Fire Department.

“I’m 40 years old and we don’t just go out on the streets and fight like knuckleheads, we are now doing something for a cause,” Henderson said. “It has become a rival in a good sense and it is bringing awareness to something we all care about. Sometimes the things we all see in a day can wear on us. We really want to help with prevention, classes and being able to provide resources for families.”

Pasadena Police Officer Brian Petrella will get in the ring on Saturday for charity.  Photo by Miguel Vasconcellos/Behind the Badge