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.
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.