Consider a Proactive Annual Check In

Start the New Year with a Proactive Annual Check In

Police work is tough business and it will eat you up if you don’t care for your “self” physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally in law enforcement is usually NOT something you can do alone. Proper care requires Proactive Peer Support, Psychological Services and Chaplains Programs and other support services to be effective.

Police psychologist Jack Digliani has just produced the 5th Edition of his Police and Sheriff’s Peer Support Team Training Manual which he has always made available for free here on He is also recommending that police officers agencies, and other law enforcement professionals consider doing an Annual Proactive Check-In.

What is a Proactive Annual Check In?

The Proactive Annual Check-In (PAC) provides police officers… and other agency employees with a confidential setting within which to share information about current life circumstances. It is a proactive program designed to offer a positive exchange thoughts, ideas, and information.

Elements of the Proactive Annual Check-In:

(1) Annual visit with the staff psychologist, a member of the Peer Support Team, department Chaplain, private counselor, or other support resource,
(2) Confidential meeting that does not initiate any record,
(3) No evaluation – It’s a check-in, not a check-up,
(4) There does not need to be a problem,
(5) It’s a discussion of what’s happening in your life,
(6) Participation is voluntary and encouraged.

Agencies can readily implement the Proactive Annual Check-in program by utilizing currently available support resources.

Disseminate PAC program information by downloading, printing, and displaying the PAC poster. CLICK HERE for the poster as a jpg file or  CLICK HERE for the poster as a PDF file.

You can also couple the proactive annual check in with Jack’s “Make It Safe” Officer Initiative that creates an environment where officers or other law enforcement professionals feel comfortable asking for help before their problems become extreme. This initiative works to change our policing culture to make it easier and safe for anyone to seek assistance rather than hide their feelings and perhaps suffer a greater second trauma from a critical incident or experience. We at The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and highly recommend this initiative as part of our Armor Your Agency™ training program and strongly encourage you to consider it for your agency.

The “Make it Safe” Police Officer Initiative
CLICK HERE to download the Initiative

The Make it Safe Initiative – Makes it safe for officers to ask for psychological support

The Make it Safe Initiative is comprised of 12 elements designed to address the frequency of police suicide by changing the police culture, engaging proactive programs, removing perceived stigma in asking for help, and reducing secondary danger.

The Make it Safe Initiative seeks to:

(1) make it personally and professionally acceptable for officers to engage peer and professional psychological support services without fear of agency or peer reprisal or ridicule.
(2) reduce officer fears about asking for psychological support when confronting potentially overwhelming job or other life difficulties.
(3) change organizational climates that discourage officers from seeking psychological help by reducing explicit and implicit organizational messages that imply asking for help is indicative of personal and professional weakness.
(4) alter the profession-wide law enforcement culture that generally views asking for psychological help as a personal or professional weakness.
(5) improve the career-long psychological wellness of officers by encouraging police agencies to adopt long-term and comprehensive officer-support strategies such as the Comprehensive Model for Police Advanced Strategic Support.

Twelve primary elements of the Make it Safe Initiative

The Make it Safe Initiative encourages:
(1) every officer to “self-monitor” and to take personal responsibility for his or her mental wellness.
(2) every officer to seek psychological support when confronting potentially overwhelming difficulties (officers do not have to “go it alone”).
(3) every officer to diminish the sometimes deadly effects of secondary danger by reaching out to other officers known to be facing difficult circumstances.
(4) veteran and ranking officers to use their status to help reduce secondary danger (veteran and ranking officers can reduce secondary danger by openly discussing it, appropriately sharing selected personal experiences, avoiding the use of pejorative terms to describe officers seeking or engaging psychological support, and talking about the acceptability of seeking psychological support when confronting stressful circumstances).
(5) law enforcement administrators to better educate themselves about the nature of secondary danger and to take the lead in secondary danger reduction.
(6) law enforcement administrators to issue a departmental memo encouraging officers to engage psychological support services when confronting potentially overwhelming stress (the memo should include information about confidentiality and available support resources).
(7) basic training in stress management, stress inoculation, critical incidents, post-traumatic stress, police family dynamics, substance use and addiction, and the warning signs of depression and suicide.
(8) the development of programs that engage pre-emptive, early-warning, and periodic department-wide officer support interventions (for example, proactive annual check in, “early warning” policies designed to support officers displaying signs of stress, and regularly scheduled stress inoculation and critical incident stressor management training).
(9) agencies to initiate incident-specific protocols to support officers and their families when officers are involved in critical incidents.
(10) agencies to create appropriately structured, properly trained, and clinically supervised peer support teams.
(11) agencies to provide easy and confidential access to counseling and specialized police psychological support services.
(12) officers at all levels of the organization to enhance the agency climate so that others are encouraged to ask for help when experiencing psychological or emotional difficulties instead of keeping and acting out a deadly secret.

The Make it Safe Initiative is dedicated to making it safe for officers to request and engage appropriate psychological support when dealing with difficult circumstances. An officer does not need to be suicidal, have an alcohol or other substance use problem, or be experiencing the emotional aftermath of a critical incident to benefit from this change in the police culture. The men and women of law enforcement need to re-think what it means to be a police officer. Officers should be able to ask for help without fear of negative career consequences and without feeling that asking for help is a personal and professional weakness. Take a positive step forward – become part of the Make it Safe Initiative today.

If law enforcement officers wish to do the best for themselves and other officers, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to make a difference.

The 12 elements of the Make it Safe Police Officer Initiative can be utilized in any occupational environment where secondary danger is a factor.

The Make it Safe Initiative and Concerns for Fitness for Duty

Asking for help does not mean “unfit for duty”

Some officers will not ask for psychological help even when they think they should because they have concerns about being “found out” and perceived as “unfit for duty”. Although it is possible for police officers to develop psychological symptoms serious enough to become incapable of safely performing at work, there is no comparison between asking for help and being unfit for duty. Seeking appropriate support and intervention for any reason, be it physical, psychological, emotional, social, or substance-use related does not automatically make an officer unfit for duty. The fear of being found out and perceived as unfit for duty is a manifestation of police secondary danger. Secondary danger is what the Make it Safe Initiative is designed to address.

Use this Action Plan for Implementing The Make it Safe Initiative:

Initiative Implementation Action Plan:
(1) Learn about the Initiative,
(2) Bring it to the attention of administrators or command staff,
(3) Become an advocate,
(4) Work with staff to address concerns,
(5) Move methodically – first implement the elements most easily accomplished,
(6) Be patient, maintain effort,
(7) Contact Jack A. Digliani thru his website if you get stuck or have questions.

Implementing the Make it Safe Police Officer Initiative is not difficult. The elements of the Initiative are easily implemented by initiating processes, strategies, and programs already well known to law enforcement agencies.

The Initiative is not an “all or nothing” proposition. Various elements of the Initiative can be implemented independently of one another. Although it is best to move forward with the entire Initiative, a partial implementation is better than no implementation.

There is no “one right way” to implement any element of the Initiative. Be creative. Make the Make it Safe Police Officer Initiative work for you. For some thoughts about implementing the Initiative, CLICK HERE

To learn more about Jack Digliani and all of his programs and initiatives please visit his website at

If you haven’t downloaded the newest 5th Edition of Jack’s Police and Sheriff’s Peer Support Training Manual please CLICK HERE to download your copy.

Also, you might find Jack’s Critical Incident Handbook of use and you can download a copy by CLICKING HERE.



Anyone who is suffering or needs assistance immediately should call the hotline for police and first responders: SAFE CALL NOW at 1-206-459-3020 or visit their website at

Stay Safe and Stay Healthy in the New Year!

Best Wishes from

CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival. We invite you to share your opinions, ask questions and suggest topics for us in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.

At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.

Our “Armor Your Self™: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement” on-site training program is an eight hour, hands-on, “How to” seminar that helps police officers and other law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to survive their careers in police work. To learn more CLICK HERE

The concept of “True Blue Valor™” is where one law enforcement officer has to muster the courage to confront a peer who is slipping both professionally and personally and endangering themselves, their peers and the public. It takes a system of organizational support and professional leadership to support and foster the concept of courage and intervention. We will train your trainers to deliver this program to your agency.
To learn more CLICK HERE

Our “Armor Your Agency™: How to Create a Healthy and Supportive Law Enforcement Agency” Program includes critical strategies that you will need to build a system of support and encouragement for a healthy and productive agency. To learn more CLICK HERE

CLICK HERE to read more about The Law Enforcement Survival Institute.

CLICK HERE if you would like to contact us to learn more about training for your organization.

I’m John Marx, Founder of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and the Editor of Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence. Thank you for reading!

About Editor

John Marx was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen of those years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city's Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department's Community Policing project. Today John combines his skills to consult with businesses about improving both their security and their customer service programs. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was devastated and began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
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  1. Hi Bill,
    The best way to send someone to for a specific article is to go to that article yourself (not the home page) and copy the url address in the window at the top of your browser. Then just send your friend that link in an email with your comments. The other way is to suggest that they go to and have them subscribe in the “Receive CopsAlive Postings in Your eMail Inbox” form in the center column. We also make reprints available upon request if someone wants to reproduce them for training etc.

  2. Hi Bill,
    Thank you for your comments and thanks for all the great work you are doing at Cop2Cop! I love the idea of the store fronts.
    Happy New Year!

  3. Do you have a link on here for forwarding your newsletter? If you do, I cannot find it. I often read articles which pertain to certain people and need to share.

  4. Great article and concept. Every one in our field needs an annual “check up from the neck up”. I’m sure you are aware of the site “Badge of Life.” He supports your idea of annual “check ins” I preach this belief everyday since my school was Social Psychology. Our goal would be to have psychologists in store fronts. A Cop could stop by on his way to work and just drop in for a talk without stigma. COP2COP at least provides a gateway by calling a retired peer who can offer peer counseling, evaluations, referrals if necessary and Crisis Intervention.

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