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Wellness

A California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training campaign to provide information and assistance to agencies and their first responders in dealing with the common stressors inherent to law enforcement-related duties.

Background

The effects on our first responders are clear: above average divorce rates, chronic physical ailments, increased difficulties in both personal and professional lives, and  continuing threats to good mental health.

With all the demands placed upon our first responders, the personal and interpersonal costs can be extreme.  Unfortunately, for those seeking to serve their communities, the costs may include stressed relationships with friends, family, agencies, and the public they serve, along with regular physical pain, anxiety, PTSD, and depression.

Fortunately, the professionals themselves, individuals who care about them, and their agencies are determined to expose the causes and effects of stress while identifying the support and resources needed to not just survive a career, but to thrive in life.

Changes in Culture

As the willingness to identify and address these issues continue to grow, agencies, individuals, and POST are developing the means and the resources to enhance employees’ overall health and wellness.  The law enforcement profession, from line staff to executives, recognizes the critical nature of individual wellness within greater contexts and significant cultural changes have taken place that enable broad access to information and resources for stress mitigation. 

Departments across the state and country have initiated programs to provide peer counselor programs, in-house professionals, training for staff and supervisors in stress mitigation and suicide prevention—all  to provide a supportive work environment for those who must regularly face the effects of cumulative stress.

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 shame and stigma have been replaced with support and understanding by co-workers and agencies alike.

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 later this year
  • Further incorporating the principles of Wellness and self-care in both the Basic Course ("Academy") and Public Safety Dispatchers' Basic Course to ensure first responders have the needed tools to manage the stressors of their job and be more successful in life
  • Releasing topic-specific training videos for officers, dispatchers, and others affected by the demands upon first responders

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

California Chaplain Corps
mindirussell911@gmail.com
916-799-9002

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.