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).
In May we published an article written by Carolyn Whiting the co-author of “The Crazy Lives of Police Wives” and I asked her if she would sit down and speak with CopsAlive.com about the book and her experiences as a former police officer and police wife.
Carolyn Whiting was a police officer for six years and she met Bob, her husband of twenty five years, while working in the same Police department. Carolyn retired due to a back injury and has been a housewife for the past twenty two years while her husband continues to work at the same department where they met. He has over thirty six years in law enforcement. Carolyn has a BA in Geography and was halfway through her MBA when she left graduate school to pursue her life-long dream of being a Police Officer, a decision she has not regretted.
The book is available at Amazon.com in both a paperback and Kindle version as well as at Barnes & Noble in paperback and for the nook.
Carolyn told me that the idea for the book came about after a discussion she had 3 or 4 years ago with… Continue reading
What do we have to do to Make It Safe for police officers to trust one another enough to be able to ask for help when they need it? What do we have to do to our law enforcement culture to make seeking mental health support for stress related issues okay?
How can we truly walk our talk enough to really have each others back and really “take care of our own?”
You can start “Make It Safe” in your agency by distributing and discussing this initiative. We must all work to make it safe for officers to ask for psychological support.
What is the Make it Safe Police Officer Initiative?
A finalized report of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website shows a total of 129 police officer fatalities in 2012. Of these, 52 are specified as “traffic-related”. This is in contrast to 49 officer deaths specified as “firearms-related”. The remaining 28 officer deaths are attributed to “other causes.” This is a reported decline of 22% compared to 2011, when 165 officers died in the line of duty (72 firearms-related, 60 traffic-related, 33 other causes).
These fatalities are representative of the primary danger of policing. The primary danger of policing is comprised of the inherent risks of the job, such as working in motor vehicle traffic, confronting violent persons, and exposure to traumatic incidents.
Sadly, there is an insidious and lesser known secondary danger in policing. This danger is often… Continue reading
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