Dabbling in Police Wellness

Is Your Agency Just Dabbling in Law Enforcement Wellness?

There are three reasons why most law-enforcement wellness programs aren’t making their people healthier, safer nor more professional. First, they’re not comprehensive enough. Second, they’re not doing anything more than just adding new training programs and creating more “flavor of the month” initiatives. Third, they are not investing time in their people, but rather using “band-aid” measures to try and fix complex problems.

As the public asks for police reform, I recommend… that we promote policing reform by advancing police wellness. The public expects healthy cops. In fact the public demands healthy cops, but that’s not where our focus is today. We are missing this opportunity!

Part of the reason that our law enforcement wellness programs are not working is that many agencies are just dabbling in wellness concepts without any clear strategy, nor providing any meaningful support for their people. It is a common occurrence in policing to host a day of training or to start a new initiative that checks a box that makes us feel like we are doing something, when in fact we may be doing more harm than helping.

Too many agencies in our profession are risking the lives and the well-being of their people by dabbling in wellness. An effective approach to wellness is not a collection of activities, but rather a robust, comprehensive system with a strategic purpose. If we want emotional fitness for our law enforcement personnel then we must have a plan and a system.

Wellness is not a program. Wellness is a system!

An effective Wellness System should be strategic, comprehensive, specific, measurable and sustainable.

If we want healthy police officers just dabbling in wellness, is foolish, it is dangerous, it is misleading, and it does not respect the needs of the people.

Let me tell you what we believe at the Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI), and then you can decide what you believe, and then perhaps take some action to protect your people, your organization and your community. If we can help you with any of this, please send us an email by CLICKING HERE.

The Effective Wellness System

An effective law enforcement mental health and wellness system should be strategic, comprehensive, specific, measurable and sustainable.

An effective policing wellness system needs a strategic plan detailing goals, tactics, objectives and measurable outcomes.

EXAMPLE: At LESI we use a Process Improvement Planning (P.I.P.) system and have also created specific strategic wellness planning documents to assist our clients build or improve their law enforcement wellness system. You must decide what strategic goals you want to set for yourself, your organization and your community. Involve others in your planning process, so that you can get a broad spectrum of ideas and then get help focusing them to the most attainable, most important or most useful. You might want to improve your number of hours, or quality of your sleep using a sleep app on your smart phone as part of an overall plan to improve your quality of life. You might choose some strategies to increase agency morale by ten points on an annual survey to enhance working conditions and build a wellness oriented culture. You might establish some initiatives to improve citizen approval scores on an annual survey of your community as part of a larger plan to enhance interactions with law enforcement and improve quality of life in your community.

In order to be effective, a comprehensive police wellness system must identify the domains of the human being, the organization and the community that will be affected, and then build the systems that will support those people, that organization and that community.

EXAMPLE: As part of our Wellness Focused Policing initiative the Law Enforcement Survival Institute has nine focus areas for improving your individual, agency and community well-being and resilience.
These Focus Areas are:
Identify Why Wellness is Important
Focus on building Individual Resilience
Focus on Agency Support Systems
Focus on building a positive, wellness oriented, Organizational Culture
Focus on promoting Wellness Leadership
Focus on building Support Systems for Leaders
Focus on Wellness Driven Community Policing
Focus on Building Internal Trust
Focus on building Community Trust.
These nine focus areas, and the processes we offer to implement them, will build what we believe to be a strategic, comprehensive, specific, measurable and sustainable Wellness System.

An effective police wellness system should be very specific in identifying all the tactics and techniques that will bolster the people along with the organization and communities affected. For individuals it should address physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual fitness.

EXAMPLE: Just within the four primary domains of Individual Resilience the Law Enforcement Survival Institute teaches 39 specific primary areas for strengthening and conditioning as described in our Armor Your Self: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement book from www.ArmorYourSelf.com Also if you wanted to focus in on certain issues like emotional survival for law enforcement or ethical policing you would construct specific educational and training regimes to strengthen and condition the specific tactics and techniques you wanted to reinforce in the areas of emotional survival or law enforcement ethics. If your chosen area of focus was community policing you could develop specific behaviors you wanted to increase to develop a wellness driven community policing strategy.

A measurable policing wellness system should have standardized and agreed upon metrics for monitoring progress and establishing success.

EXAMPLE: The people at LESI will work with you to establish the metrics that best fit your people, your organization and your community, but we could include things like sick days, hours of sleep, training hours, citizen complaints, calls for service, OTJ injuries, self-initiated projects, employee deaths, employee suicides, or officer involved shootings just to name a few options. You should decide what metrics you want to track from your life, your agency or your community. Start with some that you are already tracking and add new ones as you have time and the ability. Our smart phones, and many apps, make it easy to track things in our personal lives and our CAD and other computer systems make it easy for our agencies.

A sustainable police wellness system should utilize processes that support and encourage the strategic successes of the people, organization and communities involved for as long as it takes.

EXAMPLE: At the Law Enforcement Survival Institute we prefer to work in the long-term rather than with short term clients who are just creating quick fixes with flavor of the month programs. We will even work with you to build a researcher partnership to track the long-term impact of your wellness system. What do you think would make your system sustainable? How long would it take? How would you measure it?

Dabbling in law enforcement wellness is foolish and dangerous. An effective Wellness System should be strategic, comprehensive, specific, measurable and sustainable. What are you willing to do? When will you get started? If you need help, let us evaluate your current initiatives with you, at no charge, to see if we can help you build an effective wellness system for your people, your organization and your community. If you need ideas, take our short and free Wellness Systems Snapshot survey on our WellnessFocusedPolicing.com website here: https://wellnessfocusedpolicing.com/get-started/ and you will receive immediate feedback by email. That website is also loaded with many free materials that will help you start your own Wellness Focused Policing initiative.

The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) is an assessment, consulting and training organization and we build wellness systems for first responders as part of our Wellness Focused Policing initiative. We work with law-enforcement professionals and other first responders and their organizations who want to be at their best. Our focus is wellness and resilience. We operate as Facilitators to help you build the Person/Agency/Community you want to be! We use facilitation and our exclusive proprietary CTA (Consultative Training & Assessment) process to guide you and your organization in building the systems you want and need to achieve a level of Premier Policing!

John Marx is the Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Survival Institute, the author of the book Armor Your Self: How to Survival a Career in Law Enforcement as well as the founder of the Wellness Focused Policing movement. You can learn more about John and his work on our websites at:
www.WellnessFocusedPolicing.com; www.ArmorYourSelf.com; www.LawEnforcementSurvivalInstitute.org

© Copyright 2023 – The Law Enforcement Survival Institute, LLC and CopsAlive.com – All Rights Reserved

Leave your comments in the box below

CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival, health and wellness. 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” is a resilience building textbook, a do-it-yourself curriculum and a training program that can be presented live, on-site, virtually or through pre-recorded learning modules. These programs help police officers and other law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to build Tactical Resilience™ and survive their careers in police work. To learn more CLICK HERE. To learn about and buy the book CLICK HERE.

Our “Wellness Focused Policing Initiative” is a people focused policing strategy to promote wellness within law-enforcement first, and then to spread that sense of care, and focus on well-being, outwardly to the people served by the police. This is not a quick fix, “flavor of the month” or a band-aid solution but rather a long-term commitment to developing the comprehensive health and well-being of both law enforcement professionals AND the people they serve. To learn more CLICK HERE. To take our quick and free online survey to see where you stand now CLICK HERE.

The Tactical Resilience™ and Ethical Policing Project (TREPP) is our international initiative to promote the health and resiliency of law enforcement professionals by conditioning our people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, as well as paying attention to strengthening their mindset, level of personal mastery, depth of their social support system sand their financial fitness. It also provides a set of tools and techniques that, replenish their spiritual health and, restores their inner peace and clarity.  TREPP is expandable to meet the needs of your community and your budget and can use training, assessments and consulting to assist you where you need it. We build human resilience, create processes to enhance agency support systems, promote a culture of wellness, and most importantly initiate community lead projects thru our Law enforcement officers as Community Action Leaders (LoCAL) initiative.
CLICK HERE to download our InfoSheet on TREPP.

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 support or training for your organization.

I’m John Marx, Founder of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and the Editor of CopsAlive.com. Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter. and Instagram.

CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers and improve their heathy, wellness and effectiveness. 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 CopsAlive.com. Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! CopsAlive.com gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
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