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.
The Law Enforcement Survival Institute is proposing a new policing initiative we call Wellness Focused Policing.
Wellness Focused Policing 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.
When we are appalled by police officers doing things that are abhorrent and we want to fix the entire profession with new legislative initiatives, I think our society is focusing on the wrong solutions and those solutions might actually hurt the first responders who are doing everything right.
First, I believe that in order to be effective, change in policing practices must come from within the policing profession itself, and secondly, I believe the solutions lie in leading the people working within the profession to be their best, then supporting and sustaining exceptional performance. We must challenge everyone within the profession… Continue reading
For those of you who loved the Armor Your Self book, but wanted to share that information with your peers, the Law Enforcement Survival Institute has just released several different Study & Discussion Guide Packages designed to assist individuals, small study groups and law enforcement book clubs.
The two study packages, built around the book Armor Your Self: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement, include either 5 or 10 copies of the Armor Your Self: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement resilience building textbooks. These collections are a Do-It-Yourself package for book clubs, small groups or academy classes that can’t afford more expensive training, but want to explore the Armor Your Self textbook more deeply. These two packages include… Continue reading
I recently signed up for an online, zoom-style writing course.
I am attempting to learn more about how to write with purpose and structure.
This past session, which was an hour long, focused on letting go of an outcome or agenda. I did not really understand what that meant in its entirety when applying it to writing.
As students, we heard the topic from the moderator and then began writing, without stopping, for 10 minutes. The goal is to listen to our minds, keep the pen moving and not focusing on perfection. We were instructed to focus only on what our mind was saying. Then, she reads a second topic, and we repeat the process. Just keep moving the pen and listen.
So, that is what I did or so I thought.
After the first ten minutes, we took a minute or two to finish our thoughts and get ready for the second topic.
This time, the moderator repeated the first topic, word for word, and then said, “Go.”
I sat there for at LEAST 2 minutes. Did she forget she already read this topic? Do I type her error in the chat to let her know? There are over three hundred people on this Zoom, didn’t anyone else catch that? What the heck is going on?
And then…the AHA moment.
I already had it in my head, we were doing this session the same way we had done it before.
I was attached to the outcome.
I expected a second topic.
The moderator ignored the chat comments (from all the participants) and continued forward. After the second ten-minute writing session, the moderator told us she repeated the first topic on purpose.
She gave us a live experience of what it is like to be attached to an outcome. Man, That. Was. Good!
Looking back, I recalled several ways I had been “attached!” I thought for sure I would be married at least five years before I had a child. I was pregnant within six months of my wedding. I thought for sure I would work in the medical field my entire life. I changed careers at age 34 to law enforcement. I thought for sure I would work in law enforcement for at least 20 years. I retired after 13.5 years.
EDITORS NOTE: Guest contributor Sean Peterson is a patrolman with the Taunton Police Department in Southeastern Massachusetts and a member of the regional Critical Incident Stress Management team. He is also the owner and performance director at Chaos Fitness.
I sat down to write this in the wake of New York City Police Department’s ninth suicide this year. The current Blue H.E.L.P. statistics stand at 131 suicides on the year, with four months to go. Protesters are literally begging police to commit suicide in Portland, Oregon. With what feels like everyone and everything against us, how do we rise above the darkness? Below I have outlined some thoughts and ideas surrounding mental and physical health we first responders can easily employ in such trying times.
A Physical and Mental Approach
“Combat” or “Square” Breathing
Here’s the simple process…
1. Intently breath in with strong focus- slowly counting 1, 2, 3, 4
2. hold that breath counting 1, 2, 3 ,4
3. slowly and consistently exhale that breath 1, 2, 3, 4
Simply put, combat/square breathing is an effective way to calm the nervous system. It is a very basic introduction to the world of mindfulness, creating space between ourselves and our reactions. It brings our focus to the present moment by concentrating our attention on our breathing, allowing us to slow things down for a while, so our bodies can catch up. Consider implementing this technique to offset the adrenaline spikes and stressors associated with hot calls, inter-department nonsense and the obstacles of everyday life. The beauty of this technique is… Continue reading
Last year was the first year that the number of reported law enforcement suicides exceeded the number of Line of Duty Deaths. It’s happening again this year.
As of September 9, 2019 Blue H.E.L.P. has verified 142 suicides while the NLEOMF has only reported 83 Line of Duty Deaths.
So what are you willing to do to stop this problem from happening at your agency?
Do you have a suicide prevention program in your agency?
Well, you no longer have an excuse for not having a program. With a video produced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Working Minds Program and the Carson J Spencer Foundation, and our CopsAlive.com roll call discussion guide you can create a ready made program the moment you finish reading this page.
Recently, we were in Washington D.C. attending a banquet called Honoring the Service of Law Enforcement Officers Who Died by Suicide. This first time banquet was held in conjunction with National Police Week and was sponsored by BLUE H.E.L.P. Its purpose was to honor and recognize the service of offices who made that fateful decision and their survivors. It is Blue HELP’s mission to put names and faces to the men and women of Law Enforcement whose emotional injuries become too much to bear. Although the number of Law Enforcement personnel who take their own lives typically exceeds… Continue reading
How do you handle that one guest that just will not leave? I recently heard a definition for what trauma is. Trauma was defined as: when you leave the scene, but the scene does not leave you. That definition resonated with me. How many calls did I leave that did not leave me?
I know we all have scenes and calls that have not left us. Some are years old. Some are obvious. The larger scenes and the obviously tragic calls stay with us. It is expected. In my department, certain calls are expected to cause trauma such as an officer involved shooting or a line of duty death.
When something like that happens, peer support is automatically activated and… Continue reading