After the Webinar: Actively Caring for People. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Bobby Kipper and Dr. E Scott Geller answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Actively Caring for People: Lessons for Criminal Justice Professionals.   Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: This last year has just been challenging on many different levels as we discuss actively caring. How do we handle empathy strain or compassion fatigue, whatever you want to call it? What can we do to make sure we don’t become burnt out emotionally, resentful, and despondent? 

Bobby Kipper: Great question. I’ll start, and then I’ll get Scott’s feedback on this question. One of the things I think we’ve got to do a better job of… I just return early this morning, as a matter of fact, from a two-day wellness conference for justice professionals in Phoenix, Arizona. We are stepping up with a lot of great information, not just us, but across the board. We feel like people in this profession just needed to take care of themselves without any way to turn the wellness applications, whether it’s through nutrition, physical fitness, there’s just so much information coming at you. When I was in a profession, you just didn’t talk about what that question was about. You didn’t talk about that you are stressed and straining. Today, that help is right within your fingertips. And we’re also involved in the Department of Justice Grant that eventually, we hope we’ll take justice professionals and build a telehealth network nationwide for them to reach out just by entering a login situation. And they can get help nationwide for these issues. Wellness is at the top of the chain right now, and we are so thankful that is finally coming around, so I hope that helps. Scott?

Scott Geller: Well, this reminds me of the critical distinction between stress and distress. Folks: stress is okay. Stress means, “ I have a lot to do. I have a lot on my plate. Yes, we’ve all been stressed, but as long as we know what to do about it, this is not debilitating distress. Distress happens when you feel overwhelmed with too much to do, and you don’t feel in control. “I don’t feel in control of this.” My general recommendation is that we have to move back and get in control, as Bobby indicated earlier. We know there is a need, now we have to step back and do what we know we can do to help the situation. We cannot solve everything overnight. We can just do our part  Let’s get rid of the distress, the uncertainty, which is there; and let’s move our challenges into a stress category where I believe I can do this, I can set a behavioral goal, and accomplish things within my “Circle of Influence,” as Stephen Covey taught us, or my domain of influence.


Audience Question: Where can we get those bracelets, Scott?

Scott Geller: Thank you for that question. You can purchase the green bracelets at, in both adult and child sizes.  Blue AC4P wristbands are available at Imagine a police officer with a blue wristband walking up to a citizen and saying  “Thank you” I saw what you did. You helped that person cross the street.  I’d like you to join our Actively Caring for People Movement.” Then you give that person a blue wristband. Can you imagine? And then you explain the STEP  process—S for See an act of kindness, T for Thank the person for actively caring, E for Enter the wristband number at the website—, along with a brief description of the kind act, and P for Pass on the wristband to another person who you see perform an act of kindness.  However, some people are reluctant to accomplish this last step.  They don’t want to do the P step? They don’t want to pass it on. I got this blue wristband from a police officer; I’m not giving this away. So, imagine that we get people doing that. And again, those wristbands are available at


Audience Question: Could you please repeat the websites for the acts of kindness? Is this the same website? 

Scott Geller: Same websites— and There,  we have some other resources, including AC4P books and novels, training manuals for police, school personnel, and parents. These AC4P teaching/learning resources are available at We have a book on parenting that teaches research-based AC4P these concepts and methods just for parents and caregivers.


Audience Question: Scott, you were talking about how you got so many e-mails from people around the world after the shooting there at Virginia Tech. Why does it take a crisis to shake us out of our routines and reach out to others and show we care?  

Scott Geller: Wow, that’s a great question. And it’s really a sad reality, isn’t it?  I’ve been working in the safety field for over 40 years, and people will tell you that the thing we need in order to get attention and action for occupational safety is a serious injury or a fatality. Why? Because as soon as we get something like this to happen, people will react; people will start doing the right thing for occupational health and safety. How sad is that? But, it is human nature. We follow our regular routine. Then,  all of a sudden a disaster hits—a hurricane, a fatality—and  Suddenly we’re concerned. That’s human nature. It’s not easy to be proactive. It takes mindfulness and emotional intelligence. It takes thinking about what we have been talking about here today and believing it. Actually teaching others is key. When you teach others the concepts we’ve been talking about, all of a sudden, you become more mindful; you become more committed. Get committed to the process. Get committed to helping others through actively caring for people.


Audience Question: How do we find it within ourselves to care when so many of us are feeling so burnt out right now?  

Bobby Kipper: One of the things I would say to that is the, and I want to re-emphasize this, that what we’re dealing with is professionals that are involved in the people business. And they’re not only involved in the people business but they’re involved in the people business when people are in crisis. I mean, nobody comes in contact with justice professionals when the world is going well. So, it’s recognizing, spending those times in your own wellness platform. I mean, finding things that you need to do to separate you. I know a lot of people in the industry have taken everything’s about work, or we think about having to the process of what can I do to help this case, or what can I do to help another case. And a lot of that just weighs down and you’ve got to have an outlet. And I think it’s really important that you find that outlet. You don’t have to feel any blame or any remorse because you want to get away from it. I mean, it’s a healthy thing to do, and all the professionals will tell, you, just find your outlet. Find your happy place. Find your special place, whether it’s walking down the beach or whatever it is. Find a place where you can just all of a sudden, take the breath that you need to take, and that would be my advice.

Scott Geller: And I also think we need to face some brutal facts folks. We currently have an independent win-lose culture. We seem to live in a culture that does not actively care with an interdependent mindset.  We have a culture that has even been slamming criminal justice professionals–individuals who are continuously looking out for our safety, health, and welfare. Yes, there are a few exceptions to this actively caring behavior and that makes the news and grabs our attention. We need to teach our kids,  our parents, our friends to be interdependent—to actively care for others. It’s not about the declaration of independence, it’s about the declaration of interdependence. We are all in this together. Face the brutal facts that we need a  culture change in our country and beyond. Our own behavior, and what we teach others can influence that culture change.


Audience Question:  Is there any data that shows the actively caring program, and how it’s increased retention, improved employee engagement, those kinds of measures?

Scott Geller: Well,  we do have empirical data on the effects of applying an actively caring-for-people process to reduce interpersonal bullying in elementary schools. And we do have culture data from organizations where the whole mindset or the philosophy of reaching out and helping others was incorporated into the work culture. In fact, I might just say briefly, we started something called behavior-based safety (BBS) back in 1979, and then the BBS observation-and-feedback process became a worldwide phenomenon. Subsequently, it became obvious that cultivating an injury-free culture requires behavior change. Thus, we changed the label from behavior-based safety to people-based safety. Today we refer to this approach to cultivating an injury-free workplace actively caring for people (AC4P). Significant data shows significant reductions in personal injuries when employees looking out for each other with the COACH process—C for Care, O for Observe, A for Analyze, C for Communicate, and H for Help. When employees coaching each other for safety,  injuries decrease markedly; the, total recordable injury rate (TRIR) declines dramatically. In fact, back when we started behavior-based safety, all of a sudden, safety became more than just following the rules passed down from OSHA—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or following top-down safety regulations, Safety involved ongoing engagement of line workers looking out for each other with an objective observation and feedback coaching process. Again,  there is much objective evidence that this process works to prevent workplace injuries, whether the process is referred to as BBS, people-based safety (PBS), or actively-caring-for-people (AC4P).

Bobby Kipper: We are prepared to bring organizationally the training and the information with all of the research that we have. If anybody wants workshops, really want to be involved in helping to train you, Scott will be involved in helping to coach step by step as he does in the training process. So, we’re open to come to the organization or deal with the organization one by one, and they can reach out to my e-mail address there. Just let me know if they’re interested. I would be happy to help.

Scott Geller: Let me add one more thing. We would love to collect empirical data on the impact of an AC4P community policing process. For example, it would be so beneficial and informative to help initiate an AC4P policing project wherein we could track changes in attitude, mindset, and behavior as a function of a particular  AC4P process in an organization, a  Police Department, or throughout an entire community.


Audience Question: Bobby, did that lieutenant that had the person that you were talking about that had no empathy for your situation, whatever happened to them, did they go up any higher in the organization?

Bobby Kipper: Really an interesting story that they did go up a little bit higher in the organization, and I got a confession to make. I was, not able to be in the same room with the individual for any length of time at all because it always took me back to that memory of lack of empathy. But the interesting thing about it is that unfortunately because I try to be a real person, that lieutenant, he made captain and had tragedy in their own life today to deal with. Of course, at that particular time, I was the assistant to the chief, it could have been a turnabout, but I’m just not a vengeful person. I try to try to do the right thing in life. And so, we work with that Captain at the time to make sure that he could get the service that he needed. But, no, he did get advanced one rank and say that rank until things sort of fell apart in his personal life and it took its toll.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Actively Caring for People: Lessons for Criminal Justice Professionals.  



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