The Future of Stress Management for Law Enforcement

Teams of LE field professionals conducted hundreds of interviews prior to creating the US Department of Justice’s 222 page proposal to create Law Enforcement Stress Management Training in 1996.  The results can by synopsized as follows: EAP services, CI training, and city/county-wide services are necessary, but not enough.  The government’s top noted benefits of a preventative stress management program are:
•    to provide a confidential, specialized approach to treating and reducing stress for officers and their families, and to improve their ability to cope with stress on their own (most officers do not trust–or use–city or county programs)
•    to increase officer morale and productivity
•    to increase the agency’s overall efficiency and effectiveness
•    to reduce the number or early retirements and workers’ compensation claims due to stress-related disabilities
•    to reduce the number of on-the-job accidents
•    to reduce the potential for civil liability due to officers’ stress-related inappropriate behavior
•    to reduce negative media attention
•    to improve the general well-being of police families

And yet the battle to win LE agencies’ ears and budgets continues.  It is understood that there is a need to invest dollars into street safety training and special skills training.  It makes sense to be prudent with budgets. But there must be a way to get officers and first responders the emotional training they need in order to remain healthy and productive individuals.  This dilemma is now 20 years into its own debate if we begin counting at the government’s recognition of this crisis.  Over these last 20 years the status quo methods have done nothing to lower the depression rate, burn-out rate, or suicide rate of sworn personnel.  Clearly it is time for a change.

Here are some of the individual coping and prevention strategies outlined in that government proposal.
•    learning skills to be as effective as possible in handling what are already stressful situations per se, such as domestic violence, serious traffic accidents, shootings, death notification, and dealing with suicidal and mentally ill individuals.
•    understanding human behavior and the psychological processes relevant to police work so that officers can recognize when their own reactions should be seen as normal, or as not normal
•    maintaining physical health and well-being through diet and exercise
•    increasing body awareness and relaxation through biofeedback, meditation, or yoga
•    managing anger
•    learning to communicate effectively with family members, peers, supervisors, and citizens
•    restructuring attitudes or thoughts that contribute to stress

•    planning his/her career

The italicized elements of this list are what TPCG focuses on as its contribution to creating a healthier officer.  The others are covered by training and information provided by The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and CopsAlive.com.  While the system may not identify it as such, TPCG recognizes an imperative; get emotional survival training to as many Law Enforcement and First Responder personnel as possible.  Let’s all work together to minimize these problems and maybe some day make them go away for good.

If I can help you or your department get any of these initiatives going please email me by CLICKING HERE or visit our website at:
www.tpconsultinggroup.com

Lisa Wimberger is the founder of the Trance Personnel Consulting Group TPCG) and is a contributor to CopsAlive.com.

Lisa Wimberger works on a national level with law enforcement officers suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, both at the agency and individual levels. Lisa’s ability to bring tools to law enforcement agencies offers a proactive solution to stress management and crisis intervention. Her specialized approach for law enforcement creates a platform upon which individuals begin to identify the early signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The techniques help those caught in a hyper-vigilant stress cycle to navigate a new path through a downward spiral. Lisa offers concrete tools that help officers gain perspective during crisis, determine the personal impact, steer clear of dysfunctional patterned behavioral responses, and derive healthier options.

CopsAlive.com 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.

CopsAlive.com is the web blog of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) which 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.

About Lisa Wimberger

Lisa Wimberger works on a national level with law enforcement officers suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, both at the agency and individual levels. Lisa’s ability to bring tools to law enforcement agencies offers a proactive solution to stress management and crisis intervention. These techniques are truly alternative modalities for a healthier person and organization. Lisa specializes in training individuals and organizations to understand, identify and retrain stress patterns that undermine job performance. Her specialized approach for law enforcement creates a platform upon which individuals begin to identify the early signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The techniques help those caught in a hyper-vigilant stress cycle to navigate a new path through a downward spiral. Lisa offers concrete tools that help officers gain perspective during crisis, determine the personal impact, steer clear of dysfunctional patterned behavioral responses, and derive healthier options. Lisa founded the Trance Personnel Consulting Group TPCG) in January, 2007. It is the aggregate of the many human behavior disciplines that make up her background. With hundreds of law enforcement agents trained in 2008 the statistics speak clearly; for those in high trauma jobs there is an urgent need for an effective preventative approach to crisis intervention. Many of Lisa's family and friends were NYPD or NYFD and she spent time teaching these techniques to help rebuild families that effected her personally. She has also experienced an array of massive physical trauma herself and has used the same tools as a way to deal with all of that. Her own erosional trauma experiences include: Blinded in one eye at age 11, Hit by lightening at age 15, Blinded in both eyes at age 19, and Flatlined, no pulse-no cardio, on 3 or more occassions. She has recovered completely from all of the above events and has used the techniques to help her live a normal, healthy and rewarding life.
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6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Police Officer Health and the "Type D" Personality | Cops Alive | Police Stress and Health - Career Survival

  2. Pingback: Police Officers Arrested - What's the Problem? | Cops Alive | Police stress and health - career survival

  3. Definitely, the most important thing is to never stop trying to initiate new governance to protect our Public Safety Officers, but to also pressure each individual Congressman and Senator to uphold laws already on the books. Every spouse, sibling, and parent should have these numbers on speed dial and the individual e-mail links stored in their computer. Never stop trying to effect positive change!

  4. Kathy,
    I believe we spoke via LinkedIn, and unfortunately we are all up against the momentum of large institutions. Our mission is to do what we can–and to not stop doing it until people are so tired of hearing it that they actually stop and make a change. Thank you for your insight!

    Lisa

  5. Hi Kathy,

    I am so sorry for your loss, but just sharing your story here gives importance to all that we are trying to do to improve the quality of life and quality of career for law enforcement professionals all around the world. Thank you for Sharing.

    John Marx

  6. If the Dept. of Justice were truly interested they could do a lot more than devise “a plan” that lists strategies and coping mechanisms. If they really took the “stress factor” as seriously as it should be taken, we would be seeing more Hometown Heroes Act claims (under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Office) approved for LEOs who have heart attacks/strokes while on the job and/or doing physical fitness training. However, that’s not the the case for our LEOs or firefighters. My claim on behalf of my husband has been in the system for 4.5 years and eventually denied (after he finally died) because his cardiac arrest occurred after a 3 mile jog at work, BUT NOT while the jog was being proctored as part of his routine physical fitness evaluation. It’s currently on appeal. When DOJ starts honoring the sacrifices our Public Safety Officers make every day, only then can things start getting much better.

    I applaud you for all the good things you do to educate and inform. But DOJ needs to show our officers and their families the honor and respect earned during service, and especially when fallen. A broken and shattered family will always be left behind, simply because we chose “the one” who chose a life of sacrifice to “serve and protect” others.

    God bless you Lisa for all that you do.

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