We love our face-to-face classes. The facial expressions, fun and laughs, sharing coffee and informal conversations in the hall...we thrive in this environment. Yet, online opportunities to learn and grow cannot be ignored...no driving or flying, no hotels, little to no time off from work. And the research is overwhelmingly clear. Adults learn extremely well in the online environment.
Our online courses were designed to flow smoothly with our face-to-face to courses, yet each stands on its own. And each comes with its own course completion certificate. Each of our online courses consist of three components - the presentation, assignment, and quiz. Watch the presentation (usually about 30 to 40 minutes), read the assigned articles or watch a video or listen to a podcast, and take the short quiz. Then print your certificate! Complete each course on your schedule. Our online courses are priced at $29.95.
Prioritizing the Health, Wellness, and Resiliency of our people must be one of the most important aspirations of not only our chiefs and sheriffs but every leader, every employee in our agencies. Public safety professionals put their bodies and minds through a tremendous amount of stress and strain throughout their careers. Nearly every shift, officers run toward the dangers most of society runs from. The potential of physical harm is real and tangible and has significant impact on officers and their families. Yet, the potential of emotional and mental trauma may be much worse.
While the traditional response to mental and emotional challenges has been a “suck it up” attitude, today’s agencies are beginning to make officer health and wellness a high priority. Individually and organizationally, we must do better in urging our officers to be proactive about their physical and mental health. We must do better is creating a culture of resilience in our organizations. We must do better in helping our employees develop the capacity to overcome adversity and trauma throughout their career.
The nature of this three-course series is more about exposure to the topic of officer well-being rather than a deep dive into any one area of trauma. We begin in this first course with a look at the problem. We know the downsides to the job often experienced by many other professions…shift-work, long hours, internal politics, understaffing…. just to name a few. But we also have experiences unlike nearly any other field. We are exposed to death in almost unimaginable ways from suicides to murders to traffic accidents to natural disasters. We risk our personal safety and even our lives sometimes daily. We see the worst in mankind from thieves, robbers, and murderers to child molesters. And we often perceive a lack of backing from our own agencies, the prosecutor’s office, and the community. Law enforcement officers experience life and trauma like no others.
Welcome to Course 2 in our Prioritizing Health, Wellness, and Resiliency series. In course 1, we addressed the problems associated with mental challenges in our profession. This week we’ll explore some of the warning signs our people may display indicative of mental illness.
Most stress symptoms are temporary and will resolve on their own in a fairly short amount of time. However, for some people, these symptoms may last for weeks, months, or even years and may influence their relationships with families and friends, their agencies, with their communities. The first step in leading at-risk employees and creating a culture of resiliency is recognizing the warning signs these employees may be exhibiting. Yet, it’s not always easy because police officers have been conditioned to hide their stress or somehow suppress it. We have to get better at recognizing the warnings while at the same time removing the stigma associated with officers seeking help on their own.
Recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness is extremely important because officers often will not ask for help. Instead of leaning into the problem, they often withdraw. This isolation occurs for a variety of reasons. Officers aren’t the best at recognizing significant stress in themselves. They are enculturated with the notion that their sufferings are just part of the job, what they signed up for, as opposed to a treatable illness. And we know the law enforcement culture traditionally has viewed mental illness as a weakness, thus a culture of indifference and even contempt has emerged towards officers with mental health issues. We also know many officers believe mental health professionals cannot relate to the working conditions, experiences, and trauma officers face every day. And we also know officers are skeptical, particularly when it comes to promises of anonymity.
So why it is our responsibility, individually and organizationally, to proactively address mental illness with our colleagues. Do we not believe in individual responsibility for one’s life and behaviors? Are some crosses ours to bear individually? What business is it ours anyway…shouldn’t we respect our friends and co-workers’ privacy? These are valid questions. Yet, we’ve been asking these types of questions for a very long time, and we actually know the answers. All the way back in Genesis in the Christian Bible when God asked Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" and he answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9). The answer to that question today is the same as it was in Cain's day: "YES, We Are Our Brothers and Sisters Keeper!”
In this final course in the Health & Resiliency series, we’ll look at strategies and approaches to lead these employees, reduce and perhaps prevent mental illness, and, most importantly, we’ll look at what it takes to build an organizational culture of resiliency.
We’re excited to have you with us exploring the future nature of policing, particularly in the context of crisis and turmoil. Leading in times of crisis usually means leading in times of uncertainty and the unknown. Similarly, leading in times of uncertainty usually involves crisis... prevention, mitigation, and response. The two seem to be inextricably connected. The most successful organizations position themselves before the crisis to succeed when these events occur. Often this means predicting and planning for future crises from a mechanical, logistical perspective. But the most successful organizations also establish an organizational mindset, an agency DNA if you will, that thrives in the uncertain and unknown.
By exploring the dynamic forces likely to cause significant change to our profession, we hope to push you towards positioning yourself and your agency for what’s next even when we don’t know what that is. Clearly, preparing for the future means preparing for future crises but also other challenges and, of course, opportunities. We will never be able to completely control current events, much less future events. But we can always control our attitude, preparation, and response.
Welcome to the second course in our Crisis, Turmoil and Volatility series. In the first course, we explored the forces of change that will impact the nature of policing in the future. This course takes a hard look at current and emerging crises from the lessons we learned to how these crises might evolve in the future.
Leaders in our profession spend a considerable amount of time and energy dealing with the crises of the present. We know at some point we will face an active shooter event or a hazardous chemical spill. We know from research as well as simply watching the news that critical incidents can emerge almost anywhere and occur at a seemingly faster rate than in years past. With increasing frequency, crisis events occur in presumably safe environments, such as hospitals, primary schools, universities, churches, sports arenas, and movie theaters. Difficult to predict, these crisis situations require an immediate and effective response from the public safety community. Many require significant interagency responses often with leaders from the law enforcement community leading the way. The best leaders, the strongest organizations, recognize the value and necessity of crisis preparation and futures thinking - the ability to navigate passageways from the present to a desirable future.
Center for Police Leadership & Ethics International (CPLE)