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2015 Officer Wellness Winner
The Indianapolis (IN) Metropolitan Police Department has developed a career path towards wellness and retirement. The department, in conjunction with their police union, created the Office of Professional Development and Police Wellness (OPDW) in 2010.
Captain Brian Nanavaty spearheaded the initiative that provides tools and supports officers’ needs to deal with the most common sources of distress and employment problems. The program is exceptional in its scope, as it is designed to promote healthy officers from recruitment to retirement. The theme of the program is “Healthy Hire-Healthy Retire: Wellness is more than just an annual physical.”
This program is proactive, designed to prevent problems before they develop, creating a culture of health that is supported by the department. The entire 1,600-member agency was trained on the program, and the OPDW has continued for five years, with over 600 officers utilizing program resources during the period.
One area that sets this program apart is its emphasis on career development and officer resiliency. The department has identified the top five reasons its officers fail and provides training, education and support to address the problem areas.
Peer counselors can speak to fellow officers in crisis and make referrals are also part of the OPDW. Once a case is established, it is monitored and managed to ensure appropriate progression. Thus, there is continual support and follow-up to bolster the individual and keep them on track. An executive summary of the program indicates that following the third year of implementation, disciplinary referrals plummeted by 40% and peer referrals increased by 300%.
The department continues to gather data and evaluate the success of the program, assisting officers early on to avoid identified pitfalls and provide early intervention when problems arise. The OPDW program addresses issues of stress that lead to other bad behaviors such as alcohol abuse, marital problems or poor job performance. The program even offers financial counseling for officers at every level to assist them in managing their personal finances (often a significant stressor on officers).