Spotlight on Safety Is About YOU!
As law enforcement officers and leaders, you are the community’s first line of defense. Your health, safety, and wellness, as well as that of your agency members, matters. Every two months, the Spotlight on Safety offers you and your agency fresh online training and a quick reference to the latest trends and research on topics related directly to your law enforcement duties! You will find webinars, podcasts, online training modules, articles and publications, and more that can be used for roll calls, in-service training, or self-directed learning. Use the downloadable and printable posters as daily reminders and to motivate yourself and others. It is all about you and your safety—you matter!
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This Spotlight on Safety theme is Mitigating the Negative Effects of Stress
Law enforcement officers’ basic job duties, though essential, often contribute to physical and emotional stress, which can compromise their abilities to effectively serve and protect. Traumatic events and cumulative stress can wreak havoc on the bodies, minds, and lives of this nation’s public servants. This article explores different types of stress and identifies practical ways for officers and administrators to manage and overcome both personal and organizational stressors. The VALOR Program encourages you to read the article and start making positive changes today!
Read the article: Mitigating the Emotional Impact of Stress on Law Enforcement
Mindfulness Techniques To Combat Stress
Mike Hardee felt the effects of stress in his 42-year career in law enforcement. Read his personal account of using mindfulness training as one tool to mitigate the negative effects of stress. His hope in writing this article is to help law enforcement officers start looking at stress in their lives and begin implementing methods to manage it. This is one method of many that works for him.
Building Resiliency for Officers
Resiliency Initiatives for Agencies
Stress Awareness Flyer (Share this Spotlight on Safety with your fellow officers)
Behind Closed Doors.
Some wounds are invisible. Know the symptoms of PTSD.
Take long-term steps to reduce stress.
Be a first responder for your fellow officers.
VALOR Voices Podcasts
The Benefits of Sleep
June 30, 2016—15 minutes
Sleep is beneficial for both our bodies and our minds, and not receiving the proper amount of quality sleep may affect your safety or the public’s. With the help of Dr. Olivia Johnson, we will discuss the benefits of sleep, the dangers of not getting enough sleep, and tips for achieving better sleep.
Healthy Hire–Healthy Retire
Moderator: Alex Nuñez
Presenter: Captain Brian Nanavaty
July 25, 2017—30 minutes
In this episode of the VALOR Voices podcast, Captain Brian Nanavaty of the Indianapolis, Indiana, Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) discusses officer wellness and resiliency. Captain Nanavaty played a key role in the development of IMPD’s Office of Professional Development and Police Wellness. In 2015, the IMPD won the Destination Zero award for Officer Wellness. Captain Nanavaty details why agencies need to be proactive and implement wellness programs for their officers. At the very core of the issue, a partnership needs to be created between every officer and his or her agency by providing the resources for officers to stay physically and mentally healthy and resilient, from the point of hire through retirement.
Captain Nanavaty explains how this partnership will benefit the officer, the department, and the community.
Resources mentioned in this podcast
The Beat Podcast: May, 2018 – Officer Health, Stress, and Suicide
Mental health issues are not signs of weakness or low levels of resilience. Law enforcement officers have very important jobs—jobs that potentially require them to experience stressful and traumatic situations daily. Even law enforcement officers who are trained to handle distressing events can be affected by the long-term buildup of emotions. Mental wellness is a vital part of an officer’s general well-being and needs to be addressed with the same level of importance as physical health and safety. Listen/Download | Read the Transcript
Critical Components of Officer Mental Wellness and Resiliency: Information for Family and Friends of Law Enforcement
Mental health issues are not signs of weakness or low levels of resilience. Law enforcement officers have very important jobs—jobs that potentially require them to experience stressful and traumatic situations daily. Even law enforcement officers who are trained to handle distressing events can be affected by the long-term buildup of emotions. Mental wellness is a vital part of an officer’s general well-being and needs to be addressed with the same level of importance as physical health and safety.
The Signs Within: Suicide Prevention Education and Awareness
This document outlines the importance of suicide prevention and awareness education; refutes some common myths about suicide; and provides concepts, resources, and promising practices for law enforcement executives. It also provides an overview and a checklist for managerial staff to consider as they supervise employees for signs of stress and strategies for starting the conversation. A majority of those who die by suicide want only to stop hurting and feel relief from mental and physical pain. Law enforcement personnel might not ask for help directly but still may display signs of overt stress indicative of suicidal tendencies. Suicide prevention begins with understanding and acknowledging these warning signs and taking them seriously.
Breaking the Silence on Law Enforcement Suicides
The strategies outlined in this publication are designed as a road map for police departments seeking to include officer mental wellness as a core element of officer safety and well-being and to mitigate the threat of officer death by suicide. These strategies are designed to prevent the destructive effects of emotional trauma, mental illness, and officer deaths by suicide on a police community; to successfully intervene when officers confront mental health crises, mental illness, or suicidal behavior; and to provide effective event response protocols when an officer dies by suicide. It is time for a coordinated, nationwide initiative on this all-too-critical issue. It is time to integrate mental health and well-being into the mainstream officer safety and wellness continuum.
Safe Call Now
A nationwide, comprehensive, 24-hour crisis referral service for all public safety employees, emergency services personnel, and their family members.
Improving Law Enforcement Resilience: Lessons and Recommendations
Work-related stress has been associated with a number of negative outcomes, most notably physical and mental health problems. However, such stress also can affect officers’ families, colleagues, and, for officers who interact with the public on a daily basis, the community. Stress can lead to poor decision making and increase the rate of mistakes, both of which may jeopardize the success of the mission and the safety of the public. To help address these issues, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Bureau of Justice Assistance decided to focus the October 2016 Officer Safety and Wellness Group meeting on how to develop and support resilient officers and agencies. A law enforcement officer’s individual resilience is essential for helping him or her to cope effectively with the stress inherent in the job. When first responders have the tools and support they need to take care of themselves and manage stress, the benefits have far-reaching positive effects in both their personal and professional lives.
Officer-Involved Shootings: A Guide for Law Enforcement Leaders
Law enforcement personnel should be aware of specific mental health and wellness services that are available to them following an incident. Each department should train its members in the residual emotional, psychological, and behavioral effects often associated with officer-involved shootings and other potentially distressing critical incidents. Agencies are encouraged to train all personnel in both normal and problematic post-traumatic reactions and in appropriate responses to employees who have been involved in a shooting or other traumatic incident.
Shifts, Extended Work Hours, and Fatigue: An Assessment of Health and Personal Risks for Police Officers
Physical health, psychological well-being, safety, and efficiency at work are important factors for any police agency to consider. When one considers the monetary and human costs of fatigued officers, it is essential to promote scientific awareness and subsequent plausible interventions. The rate of officers dying from health-related problems and accidents, for example, has surpassed the rate of officers dying from homicide. Fatigued or tired police officers are also a danger to themselves as well as the public they serve. Little is known of the long-term impact of shift work and extended work hours on police officers, and no direct, scientifically rigorous exposure assessment of shift work has yet been done. The goal of this investigation was to examine police officer exposure to shift work and the association of such exposure with adverse health and psychological outcomes.
Strengthening Officer Resilience
Police work is often stressful, and officers are likely to experience or witness violence and death. These stressors can have a big impact on officers’ physical and mental well-being and can accumulate over the course of a career. Many officers struggle with alcohol, depression, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other challenges.
Preparing for the Unimaginable: How Chiefs Can Safeguard Officer Mental Health Before and After Mass Casualty Events
It is hard to imagine that an incident as horrific as those that occurred in Newtown, Charleston, and San Bernardino could occur in our own communities. Indeed, events of this kind are rare. But they do happen, and law enforcement leaders must be prepared not only for a possible incident but also for the aftermath that would follow. Though most agencies have trained and equipped their officers for immediate response to mass casualties, few have prepared their personnel for the psychological fallout. Tragic events can have a profound effect on first responders, who may suffer emotional distress that lingers long afterward, leading to personal problems, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even suicide.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.