Destination Zero Project

Officer Wellness Award Finalist

SANDY SPRINGS (GA) POLICE DEPARTMENT

2016 Officer Wellness Award Finalist

Sandy Springs (GA) Police Department (150 sworn)

In 2014, the department created and promoted a wellness program focused on health and fitness. The department commissioned a new two-story fitness center with cardio equipment, free weights, CrossFit equipment and defensive tactics equipment. Officers are allowed to exercise while on duty for one hour per shift. A trained law enforcement fitness coordinator is on hand to conduct fitness assessments, provide individual education, and assist in goal setting and support.

A three tier physical fitness incentive program is offered, based on the Cooper fitness standards, and is designed to accommodate officers of all fitness levels. Incentives include 16, 8 or 4 hours of paid time off, in addition to SSPD gym bags, folding chairs, and running jackets. Free annual physicals, which include bloodwork and CT scans are offered. Recently, one of the free CT scans revealed lung cancer in an officer. Since it was caught early, the officer was able to receive appropriate treatment and return to full duty.

The first year of the department’s health and fitness incentive program, 23 members participated. In 2015, participation increased to a total of 89. This represents a 60% departmental participation rate. One officer who joined the program lost 25 pounds in 3 months.

CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL

2016 Officer Wellness Award 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.

APPLETON (WI) POLICE DEPARTMENT

2016 Officer Wellness Award Finalist

Appleton (WI) Police Department (110 sworn)

In 2013, Appleton Police Department launched a shared resources program with a unique approach to providing peer counseling and resources to all of Outagamie County in Wisconsin. This program offers shared resources between different county law enforcement agencies that allow for peer counseling from a fellow officer. This program is innovative in its shared resources approach, and provides the extra benefit of confidentiality as a peer counselors may be selected from an outside agency.

The program is made up of 29 peer counselors from seven different police departments who were all trained as counselors together and are part of a common countywide platform. A poster was created with the photograph, name and contact number of the peer counselors and is posted in strategic locations at police agencies across the entire county.

This county wide peer support team also has developed a free yoga class for officers, a new employee orientation program and provides a flash drive with free curriculum information on it. All employees are provided a copy of the book “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement.” A licensed counselor participates in ride-alongs with officers.

Officer Wellness Finalist

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