Stress Reduction Program for Police Officers and Other Law Enforcement Professionals

I had an interesting opportunity this week to interview an expert on the subject of police stress reduction, which is an excellent followup to our articles on the problems of police suicide and the other toxic side effects of a career in law enforcement.

Professor Edward LeClair has been a criminal justice professional since1969. During the last 15 years, working with dozens of police departments in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Professor LeClair has researched, designed and implemented the Law Enforcement Officer Stress Reduction Program with unique training based upon gender and sexual assault investigators stress reduction.

The police training was the outgrowth of Professor LeClair’s unique training as an intern at the Mindful Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Worchester Medical Center, which was under the direction of John Kabat-Zinn, PhD; and the published medical research on the “Relaxation Response” by Herbert Benson, MD, from Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

As mentioned above Professor LeClair has found that the stress response is different for male officers and female police officers which is one of the things we talked about in our interview. Here are some things… that those officers have said after taking Professor LeClair’s two-day intensive stress reduction program:

Testimonials from male police officers:
“If you don’t think you’re under stress you’re wrong.”

“I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who has the opportunity to attend. This would be beneficial for everyone in a police organization.”

Testimonials from female police officers:
“Trust him-It works!”

“A great program that focuses and uses tools to take care of yourself when you feel overwhelmed when you are taking care of others.”

During our interview Professor LeClair talked about his research into the area of stress reduction and described his two-day stress reduction course. He talked about the importance of introducing 20 minutes a day of proper exercise, deep breathing, yoga or even prayer into your life to reduce your stress and help manage the toxic effects of your job in law enforcement. He said that you must develop a “ritual” for your stress reduction efforts so they become habit. His course teaches you how to reduce stress properly and how to use rhythmic breathing to trigger the “Relaxation Response” described in the works of Dr. Herbert Benson and further works by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD.

Professor LeClair offered listeners a free copy of his CD that has his 5, 10 and 20 minute stress reduction program on it. This generous offer is dependent upon his ability to get them reproduced by a police agency, if the demand is very high, and then he asks the listener to simple pay the postage and handling charges.

CLICK HERE if you would like to contact Professor LeClair to obtain a copy of the CD he mentioned in his interview.

During our interview he referred to the work of Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, PhD. on Hypervigilance and described how it’s just not good for a law enforcement officer to run their body on overdrive all the time. He mentioned that new research in the field of Neuroscience has promoted the concept of “Brain Plasticity” and how it is possible for police officers to retrain our brains to disengage from on-going stress.

Professor LeClair described how his suggestion of 20 minutes of exercise, done properly, with the proper breath control, will trigger relaxation and will help make the transition from work to home smoother for cops. He said this works for cardio workouts as well as weight lifting if done with smooth breathing matched to your lifts. He said that some cops make weight lifting a “battle” and that a style like that will only enhance your body’s stress response, not reduce it. He said that yoga is also good for stress reduction, as is cycling, and even prayer or meditation, if combined thoughtfully with deep breathing exercises targeted at reducing your stress.

Professor LeClair recommended a number of books in our interview:
“Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement” by Kevin Gilmartin, PhD.
“The Relaxation Response” by Herbert Benson and Miriam Z. Klipper
“Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior” by Phil Jackson

You can listen to our 52 minute interview here:

Or you can download the 9.2 MB mp3 file by RIGHT CLICK HERE to download (that’s CONTROL CLICK if you use a Mac then SAVE LINK AS…) a copy of the mp3 file.

Our thanks to Professor LeClair for his work in criminal justice over the last 42 years, as well as for giving us his time for this interview, and his generous offer of stress reduction CD’s for our listeners. 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.

We do this by Helping Law Enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful lives on the job and beyond. We think the best strategy is for each officer to create a tactical plan for their own life and career.

The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) works with individuals and organizations to help them create and sustain success in their lives and careers as law enforcement professionals. It is the primary goal of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute to become the preeminent source for training, resources and information about how to create and sustain a happy, healthy and successful life and career while providing superior law enforcement service to your community.

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

If this topic interests you please join us April 15, 2011 when we present an eight hour training block on Comprehensive Survival Skills at the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) conference being held at the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling, Illinois. John Marx, Christian Dobratz, Lisa Wimberger and Dale Graff will present four two-hour blocks entitled “Tactical Wellness: To Serve with Valor, Protect Yourself Now” (Marx); “The Cumulative Effects of Stress – Recognition, Intervention and Survival” (Dobratz); “Emotional Survival and Stress Management” (Wimberger); and “Optimizing Survival: Enhancing External and Internal Awareness” (Graff). Please join us for what is going to be an eye-opening discussion on Law Enforcement Wellness and Career Survival. To learn more about the conference CLICK HERE.

John S. Marx, CPP is Executive Director of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute;
Lisa Wimberger is the CEO of Trance Personnel Consulting Group;
Christian Dobratz is an Assistant Professor at Minnesota State University at Mankato;
Dale Graff is a Facilitator, author and former Director of the military’s Stargate

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 Stephen,

    Thank you for your comment. Yes, that book and several others written by Dr. Herbert Benson are excellent for cops who want to learn about how to control their negative responses to stress.

  2. Thank you for the info and links to files. ‘The Relaxation Response’ is a book that was decades ahead of its time.

  3. Pingback: English 372 Zen - Mindfulness & Law Enforcement

  4. Pingback: A Stress Management Prescription for Law Enforcement | Cops Alive | Police Stress and Health - Career Survival

  5. Excellant article. Please read my previous comment regarding the function of COP2COP

  6. Very good and appropriate article. I am retired from the job but work as a mental health clinician here at COP2COP. We are a confidential helpline for law enforcement, providing assesment, peer counseling, referrals, and crisis intervention to law enforcement officers in New Jersey. Our job is stressful enough but the officers we speak to are over the top.

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