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2016 Officer Wellness Finalist
California Highway Patrol (6,800 sworn)
In 2013, the California Highway Patrol developed a program called Kevlar for the Mind that is designed to help officers cope with the stress of the job. The program includes a four hour block of instruction, which was given to the entire patrol force in 2014. This unique program addresses what is called “Adaptive Denial” and the makeup of police psyche and how it deals with stress.
The program breaks down the body’s response to stress and the physiological actions that occur within a person under stress. It also contains several exercises and self-tests for the participants to evaluate where they are as an individual and to help them understand the concept of “Comprehensibility” as it relates to trauma. The course takes the student through the process of recognizing vulnerabilities and reactions, and works to build resiliency through the ability to bounce back from a negative experience.
This program also discusses the problem of “Hypervigilance” and the swing from the sympathetic and the parasympathetic branches of the Autonomic Nervous System. CHP created their own videos for the training which includes a powerful story of resilience and determination involving CHP Officer Pedeferri, who was struck while on his motorcycle. The training provides officers no excuse to say “I have no one to talk to” and aims to breaks down the stigma of admitting an officer needs help.