PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR OR ACTIVITY
Rates of injury, illness, cardiac death, reduced life span, and suicide among law enforcement officers are staggering. These factors are far more likely to prematurely end officers’ lives than anything they face on patrol.
IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
Citizens expect a healthy officer to arrive in their time of crisis. Many officers bear the cumulative physical and mental scars of the realities of police work. Improving officers’ mental and physical resilience contributes to improved performance and decision making on the street.
Bend Police Department has adopted a multi-pronged approach to improve officer resilience.
- Coached team-level fitness classes for on-duty officers working graveyard shifts are conducted with the goal of improving duty readiness and camaraderie.
- Professional yoga instructors teach injury-prevention yoga to mid-shift officers during their shift.
- A contracted psychologist is available 10 hours per week for the purpose of confidential officer support and education.
- Spouse and family support is funded annually by the department. Family events in the past year have included a barbecue, a snow-park day, a spouse appreciation tea, a firearm safety/range day and child/infant CPR.
- Financial literacy was recognized through an officer survey as a need in the department. 90% of officers surveyed hoped for more financial training. A local financial advisor was used to deliver a four part training on budgeting, investments and retirement.
- The department is conducting mindfulness training for officers. Guided mindfulness sessions are conducted at the end of day shifts with patrol teams. The department also hosts an annual three-day resilience immersion retreat that allows personnel to develop skills in awareness and mindfulness.
BASED ON RESEARCH
This program has been funded through existing revenue in the department budget.
The programs are open to all department employees, about 120 people. Because the programs are in their infancy, measurable factors to assess their success are still being evaluated.
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS
Administrative and financial support, in addition to officers being willing to try something different, are critical to these programs.
It would be worthwhile to redefine what police training is. Training officers’ minds and bodies is an essential part of them surviving their career and effectively serving our communities.