Left to right: Craig Floyd, Georgene Rye, Hazel Erlene Cavalere, Denise O’Donnell.
2015 Comprehensive Safety Award Winner
The Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Office developed and implemented a comprehensive officer safety and wellness program composed of 5 core components: physical activity, nutritional support, emotional support, financial fitness, and health relationships (family and community).
Under the leadership of Sheriff Jerry L. Demings, the agency has taken a comprehensive, top-down approach to officer safety and wellness. Sheriff Demings takes the lead by regularly exercising with his deputies and teaching a four-hour block of annual instruction on safety, wellness and use of force. The safety and wellness instruction not only covers physical fitness but family life, financial health, stress reduction, and mental wellbeing.
The program, entitled “Fit Deputy,” is a voluntary program providing incentives for deputies to exercise. The program integrates the local business community by allowing deputies to use specific hotel gyms at no cost to ensure that all deputies have access to a workout facility. This multifaceted program also provides free classes in yoga, High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Aikido, Zumba and more.
The agency adopted the Below 100 philosophy of officer safety to reduce crashes, injuries and improve the culture of safety among deputies. The Sheriff is a proponent of realistic and repetitive training, including the use of simulation technology. He also invites members of the media to participate to ensure transparency. He encourages high-liability training several times each year and has invested in new vehicle collision avoidance technology.
The Sheriff’s Office has a permanent Wellness Coordinator and is adding a Wellness Analyst to help gauge the wellbeing of its officers and address negative trends in an expeditious manner. The Wellness Coordinator not only arranges health fairs and screenings, but provides employees access to counseling and family support. The agency recently held a “Family Orientation” for new employees to discuss how a law enforcement career may impact their family and personal relationships.
Employees at all fitness levels participate in a variety of classes, community events, and fund-raisers to improve individual fitness and strengthen community relations. Some of these events include Kickball for United Way, Dodgeball Challenge to benefit Crime Line, Step Challenge, and Healthy Eating Challenge. The agency also provides employees’ lunch boxes/coolers with the agency logo, and promotes the “Tactical Lunch Bag,” a guide to healthy eating and on-duty nutrition.