Police Peer Support: Does it work? The Efficacy of Law Enforcement Peer Support
By: Police Psychologist Jack A. Digliani, PhD, EdD
EDITORS NOTE: This article was submitted by CopsAlive longtime contributor Dr. Jack Digliani and it is of particular importance because I believe he has created one of the first and certainly most thorough evaluations of Proactive Peer Support programs ever conducted. Jack is truly one of the world’s preeminent promoters of effective law enforcement peer support and how to properly train for it. READ this article, visit his website, and use his free materials that are available here on CopsAlive and also on his site. If you haven’t had Jack conduct a training program for your agency yet, you are truly missing the best!
Peer support teams within law enforcement agencies have existed for many years. Although many law enforcement officers and police psychologists have advocated for peer support programs, there has been surprising little research providing evidence for the efficacy of peer support.
To gather information about the use and outcome of agency peer support, the peer support experiences of employees of three northern Colorado law enforcement agencies, Fort Collins Police Services, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, and Loveland Police Department, were assessed utilizing the Peer Support Team Utilization and Outcome Survey. The peer support teams of each agency are well established, similarly structured, and function under the oversight of a licensed mental health professional. Each member of the peer support teams was initially trained within the Police Peer Support Team Training program.
The applied methodology for Survey distribution and collection produced a return of 644 surveys. This represented approximately 77.9% of the survey-eligible population. Of the 644 surveys collected, 631 were returned completed (76.3% of the survey-eligible population).
EDITORS NOTE: Lori and Dave Barron have worked for years to promote family support within the Evansville Indiana Police Department (EPD) and they have always offered their assistance to other agencies and concerned family members as well. Don’t forget the effect a critical incident can have on law enforcement families and work to build a strong family support network before you need one! Here is Lori’s story:
I am the proud wife of Sergeant Dave Barron and admire my spouse and all other Law Enforcement Officers and their families. Dave has been on the Evansville Indiana Police Department (EPD) for 27 years and will be retiring March 2018 and it’s a little bitter sweet for me I must say. I want you all to know this life is not always easy but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Support each other, you are stronger and more resilient than you even realize.
July 4, 2003 started out like any other night as my husband went to work on third shift motor patrol. Around 2 am I was awakened by a call from Dave that he had just shot someone but he was ok. I had a million questions for him and he had… Continue reading
EDITORS NOTE: This time of year can be tough for cops and other emergency responders just like everyone in society. It’s hard to think about suicides, but maybe this is the best time for us to look after our health as well as that of our peers. Julie Zielinski is a Law Enforcement Survival Institute faculty member who lost her Sheriff’s Deputy son to a completed suicide. Julie now writes and teaches about suicide prevention for law enforcement professionals. As the newedition of her book Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors is released she reflects upon her journey. Read to the end of the article to find our free CopsAlive suicide prevention resources that you can activate in your agency TODAY!
My Journey 2017
On June 1, 2005, my 27 year old son, Matthew Zielinski, took his life due to a failed relationship. At the time he was a Chelan County Sheriff Deputy in Washington State, who had achieved this dream job eleven months earlier. Obviously, it was devastating to my family and I but more about my journey later.
This tragic event has birthed in me a passion to learn everything I can about suicide prevention in law enforcement. Through research, attending conferences, and contact with experts in the field it appears that deaths by suicide in law enforcement are 2-3 times greater than line of duty deaths (LOD) nationwide. This is astounding yet little is being done by law enforcement agencies to spend more time with mental health issues including suicide prevention. In fact, cover-up is common.
When I talk about mental health and fitness, I’m talking about the cognitive functioning and fitness you need to thrive as a law enforcement professional or other emergency responder.
The other things you might think of as “mental health” are covered in the emotional and spiritual health categories of our overall plan for building Tactical Resilience™ and I will, or have, covered them in other articles (See Below).
For the purposes of our discussion here I want you to think about the cognitive functions that are critical to your performance in your capacity as a law enforcement professional or other emergency responder role.
To me mental strength comes from regular conditioning much like… Continue reading
We talk a lot in law enforcement about having a strong will or inner spirit. We discuss being warriors or being brave and true, but do we really ever take time to analyze or decide if those things are true? Do we ever spend any time cultivating a true, written code of our behavior?
A lot of global history talks about the Way of the Warrior and the Code of Chivalry. If we are indeed modern Warriors should we not be driven by those same kinds of codes?
My question for you is that if you don’t have one of those kinds of doctrines in writing then the best person to write it is you! I’ll give you a head start here but… Continue reading
Today is PTSD Awareness Day 2017 and June is PTSD Awareness Month here in the United States. Law enforcement officers can experience overwhelming issues of cumulative stress and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder known as PTSD. We need to start taking care of each other. Continue reading
The Law Enforcement Survival Institute is proud to announce the release of John Marx’s new book: Armor Your Self™: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement.
The book helps law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in order to build Tactical Resilience™.
This book also provides guidance and support for law enforcement family members to use in order to learn how to help their family survive that career in policing.
This book is about “Saving the Lives of the People Who Save Lives”
Police work is the most toxic job on the planet, and if the members of the law enforcement community don’t take measures to protect themselves, this job will eat them up!
If law enforcement officers did a true threat assessment of their careers, they would realize that the real dangers lie not with the bad guys, but within the stresses of the job. High rates of suicide, depression, alcoholism, domestic violence, PTSD, heart attack and cancer are the real cop killers.
First responders and public safety workers experience repeated exposure to trauma through their work. This can have a lasting impact on mental well-being and puts these men at increased risk. As a result of career-related stress, first responders and public safety workers often face… Continue reading
Overwhelm is epidemic across most of the modern world. Our nervous systems aren’t designed to keep up with the rate and scope of change. We can’t slow down the outside world; all we can do is manage our inside worlds – the space between our ears.
Life and business coach Karen Van Cleve has spent the last 15 years learning what overwhelms us, why, and most importantly, what can we do, NOW, to shift our overwhelm.