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Officer Wellness

A California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training campaign to provide information and assistance to agencies and their peace officers in understanding and dealing with the effects of common stressors facing our law enforcement professionals.

SILENT NO MORE

Background

The statistics are clear: Peace officers have above average divorce rates, chronic physical ailments, and can suffer, often unaware, from debilitating mental health conditions. With the extreme emotional and physical demands of the profession, irregular shift work, and regular exposure to vicarious trauma, officers' relationships with their friends, families, agencies, and the public they serve are adversely affected. Regular physical pain, anxiety, PTSD, and depression are common among law enforcement and, unfortunately, can translate into one of the greatest tragedies: Peace officers are more likely to die from suicide than on-duty assaults.

Fortunately, the silence surrounding the effects of stress upon our law enforcement officers is being broken. The professionals themselves, individuals who care about them, and their agencies are determined to bring the causes and effects of these tragedies forward and provide the support and resources needed to not just survive a career, but to thrive in life. The profession will be Silent No More.

What is Changing?

The need to address these issues has never been greater. The law enforcement profession, from line staff to executives, is moving forward by asking a peer when something doesn't seem right, telling others when suffering from the effects of life and work, and remaining Silent No More when it comes to the physical and mental health of our law enforcement officers.

Departments across the state and country have initiated programs of various complexities to provide peer counselor programs, in-house professionals, staff and supervisory training in stress mitigation and suicide prevention, outside referrals, and just as importantly cultural shifts to provide a work environment supportive of the officers and families who must face the specific and cumulative effects of daily stressors throughout a lifetime.

Numerous other resources include education on simple techniques for relieving stress, law enforcement-focused retreats, medical and psychological services, and peer-based programs. Past concepts about the effects of the job on an officer often carried shame and stigma but are being quickly replaced with support from true "back-ups" who are finding the means to assist whenever possible.

This Online Resource

Through this webpage, agencies and other users will find links to resources to aid in developing positive changes within the profession. Resource types are noted below as are the contacts of agencies prepared to provide additional information regarding their programs. The Commission and POST staff hope the information provided here and in the future truly fulfills our mission to "enhance the professionalism of California law enforcement in serving its communities" by ensuring our agencies are well-equipped to promote the health and well-being of their personnel.

The Future

To continue providing meaningful resources on this topic, POST is developing or updating a variety of products to assist agencies and their personnel. These include:

  • Providing agencies and trainers pertinent information and research through the POST Wellness Guide to be released by Spring 2021
  • Incorporating the principles of Wellness and self-care in the Basic Course ("Academy") to ensure future officers have the needed tools to both manage the stressors of the job and be more successful in life
  • Releasing topic-specific training videos
  • Developing and updating in-service courses to enhance experienced officers' abilities to manage the more-personal aspects of the job
  • Reviewing other law-enforcement related disciplines' needs (e.g., Public Safety Dispatcher, Coroner, etc.) for Wellness products and infusing them into upcoming planning sessions to ensure resources are developed

Available Training Courses

Resource Contacts for Agencies*

The following contacts are available to any agency interested in developing or enhancing their programs:

San Diego Police Department, Wellness Unit
Sergeant Edwin Garrette
(619) 531-2243

Emeryville Police Department, Peer Wellbeing and Resiliency Program
See also: Innovations in Care for LE Officers and Community
Captain Oliver Collins
(510) 596-3706

Palo Alto Police Department
Chief Robert Jonsen
(650) 329-2555

Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Sacramento 
Executive Director Mindi Russell

(916) 978-0296

California Chaplain Corps
chaplaincorps@lecs911.com

(916) 365-2273

Agency In-house Mental Health Programs:

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department-Psychological Services Bureau
A/Director of Bureau Operations
Dr. Stephen Seetal

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, Behavioral Science Unit
Dr. Cherylynn R. Lee
(805) 698-8934

*Agencies with similar current programs who are willing to provide other agencies program information should have their program representatives contact the POST staff listed in the sidebar to discuss the possibility of including their information on this site.