You must take care of your troops if you want to carry out your mission.
In Mindful Policing—A New Approach to Officer Wellness and Safety Training and Education, Jennifer Tejada, Chief of Police, Emeryille PD, California, and Lieutenant Richard Goerling, Hillsboro PD, Oregon, issue a call to action regarding officer wellness:
“Headlines calling for reform in police training are commonplace. Professional law enforcement magazines are filled with articles on reform, implicit bias, de-escalation training, fair and impartial policing, and public trust. Most of the dialogue centers on training officers in communication skills, bias, or force options.
In 2014, officer wellness and safety was identified as one of the six priorities for law enforcement in the final report from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
- In all of the dialogue, in all of the mainstream trainings, and in all of debates and town hall meetings, little consideration is given to what officers are experiencing physiologically or psychologically.
- Little consideration is given to what neurobiology and other science disciplines tell us about the impact of stress and trauma on the people behind the badge.
It is generally understood that most law enforcement officers enter the profession to do good, to help their communities, and to fulfill a sense of service above self. It is also known that the law enforcement profession is stressful and often involves trauma and that chronic stress and acute trauma cause psychological, physiological, and social harm.”
Across the country, departments are responding to the call to take care of their own:
- San Diego Police Department created a wellness unit
- The Plymouth (Minnesota) Police Department created a wellness officer assignment that is solely focused on the well-being of its personnel
- Toronto Police Services offers flu prevention clinics, cardio metabolic risk assessment, multi-site childcare services with no late pick-up fees, emergency childcare services, a family support service, including critical incident debriefing, multi-faith chaplaincy services and ongoing stress management training
- San Antonio Police Department instituted the performance recovery optimization (PRO) program to understand, recognize and respond to the body’s physiological stress response
- Camden County Police Department (New Jersey) created the Blue Guardian program to train officers in de-escalation and communication, brought in a wellness coach and began the Cop 2 Cop peer support program
At Frontline Psychological Services & Wellness Inc., we recognize that healthy police officers make for healthy law enforcement agencies.
We take pride in our training, consultation and wellness events, ensuring that they reflect the strategies recommended by the IACP’s Center for Officer Safety and Wellness. Accordingly, we endeavor to:
- Take a holistic approach to health, wellness, and safety
- Build top-down support to promote and model healthy behaviors
- Involve officers in program development and execution
- Take a proactive approach instead of reactive approach to wellness and safety
- Increase access to health services
- Adopt confidentiality as a guiding principle
- Embrace a performance mindset
- Document, celebrate and publicize success
Whether your department desires to build, reform or maintain a wellness program, we are ready to work with you.
Law enforcement can be an extremely challenging and dangerous career. However, it also can be a very fulfilling one. Developing officers’ minds and bodies to make them stronger and more resilient will help them minimize occupational risks and maximize occupational rewards, ensuring that they have not only long and happy lives, but also long and happy careers. –
Practices In Modern Policing – Officer Safety and Wellness, International Association of Chiefs of Police
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