Officer Safety and Wellness in Rapidly Changing Times: What does it look like for officers, their families and agencies?

Officer Safety and Wellness in Rapidly Changing Times: What does it look like for officers, their families and agencies?
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-03-10
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Officer Safety and Wellness
Unit 2Transcript: Officer Safety and Wellness
Unit 3Workbook: Officer Safety and Wellness
Unit 4Recording: Officer Safety and Wellness

Events that transpired in the last few years made it evident more than ever the challenges the public safety profession is facing. Forced to adapt in a fast-changing world of serious public health concerns, coupled with civil unrest and generalized negative sentiments towards law enforcement, the impact on the people who were sworn to serve and protect became apparent.

This webinar delves into how recent events posed physical and mental health concerns for those working as first responders. Leading the discussion is a panel of speakers that include:

  • Christine Johnson, Project Associate at the National Policing Institute
  • Nick Metz, Retired Chief of Police of the Aurora (CO) Police Department
  • Sara Metz, Licensed psychologist
  • Bill Walsh, Training Bureau Lieutenant and Health and Wellness Coordinator at the Voorhees Police Department, New Jersey
  • Sammie Wicks, Senior Program Manager at the National Policing Institute’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies

Topics tackled in this session are:

  • A brief overview of the National Policing Institute, its efforts in advancing the field of policing, and the guidebook developed to address wellness in law enforcement.
  • The stressors experienced by law enforcement over the past two years and how these impacted the law enforcement organizations, the law enforcement professionals, their families, and their overall wellness.
  • The impact of these challenges from the lens of the Voorhees Police Department in New Jersey.
    • The changes and challenges posed by COVID and the murder of George Floyd.
    • The factors considered and that influenced operation planning in COVID and protest policing.
    • Considering human needs during operational planning to advance officer safety and wellness.
    • Ways that wellness is integrated into operational planning in the officers’ day-to-day activities.
    • Culturally competent options put into place to support officer wellness across different aspects of their lives.
    • Ethical considerations that served as guidance and ensure that wellness programs effectively address their concerns end needs.
  • Leadership’s role in promoting a culture of wellness within the organization.
    • The four elements of good organizational health that must be present.
    • The most important quality of a leader to influence their followers to adopt a culture of wellness.
    • How officers are responding to the tough times in policing and the vital role of leaders to keep them engaged and motivated in their jobs.
    • The concept of organizational stress and how discernment with how decisions, policies, and procedures impact those in the front lines can help mitigate it.
    • Remembering that leadership and law enforcement work involves working with people who have feelings and how our interactions with them shape their perceptions and emotions.
    • Understanding leaders’ ability to control and influence the people they work with and using these to cultivate a culture of wellness.
    • The value in leaders being curious about their people and opening up conversations to get to know them more and get a sense of their struggles end level of wellness.
    • How leaders can foster openness and abolish stigma related to mental health by sharing their vulnerabilities and struggles.
    • Keeping the employees’ families in the loop when it comes to the wellness initiatives and resources available to them should they need it.
  • Critical steps into creating a holistic officer wellness program.
    • Starting with a Needs Assessment to identify the top concerns for the employees.
    • Design the wellness program based on the identified concerns and paint points.
    • Change the culture from a language perspective so that the employees can express what they truly feel and be able to have authentic and organic conversations around it.
    • Examine the employees’ challenges and level of wellness based on the stress continuum model to be able to better equip them with the appropriate tools and resources based on their needs.
    • Consider whether the people trust the resources available to them and whether mental health stigma poses a barrier into seeking help.

Questions from the audience are about:

  • Needs assessment forms and templates to use.
  • Getting the resources to provide the employees with the support they need.
  • Processing the experience and trauma that comes with a job in law enforcement.
  • Securing funding and buy-in from upper management to get a wellness program started.
  • Evidence-based research on officer wellness, organizational stressors, and traumatic events and how these impact the individual and the organization.
  • Integrating dispatch into the wellness programs.


Other Webinars with this Organization:


Click here to view and register for other upcoming Police Foundation webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Very informative. Very nice to hear others feel and see that dispatchers are and should be looked at as being First Responders, very touching to hear.” — Angela
  • “The importance of wellness especially in this line of duty and imports it is for the department.” — Cecilia
  • “Leaders set the tone for the entire Department, and leadership training could be one of the most important things that Departments do to ensure the Wellness of their Department.” — Colleen
  • “Excellent instructors and information- Topic that is often not a priority in all 1st Responders Fields.” — Corey
  • “The responder stress continuum was really interesting and I have found that officers use the “suck it up” method (unfortunately) until they are in the red zone. Being able to understand monitoring yourself and others and where they may be at in the continuum is very valuable. Also, I liked the idea of the needs assessment.” — Jen
  • “I really enjoyed the whole webinar and it reinforced many of my beliefs in regards to how “great leadership,” should look and be.” — Lewis
  • “Phenomenal presentation on a much-needed topic!!!! As an Officer who is preparing to move up in rank, the most inspirational take away for me was; ” Be the leader you wish you had.” My response is… Will Do!!!! Thank you guys – please keep rolling out webinars like these.” — Michelle
  • “The focus on making wellness a part of everyday life in the agency and not just when an agency needs to respond to a crisis. This is critical.” — Sydney
  • “AWESOME presenters! A wealth of knowledge. Please present this again. More people need to know all this information! Love the Chief’s quote: “Be the Leader you would like to have!” — Roseann
  • “Officer wellness has always been very important to me however this webinar gave me a different perspective that included several further options that I have not thought of in the past. Extremely useful information.” — Jerry
  • “Great presenters. Learned about more options to help first responders have better mental health.” — Robert



About the National Policing Institute: Formerly known as the National Police Foundation, the National Policing Institute’s mission is to pursue excellence in policing through innovation and science. It is the oldest nationally-known, non-profit, non-partisan, and non-membership-driven organization dedicated to improving America’s most noble profession – policing.

The National Policing Institute has been on the cutting edge of police innovation for over 50 years since it was established by the Ford Foundation as a result of the President’s Commission on the Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (1967) and the related conclusions of the Kerner and Eisenhower Commissions, taking place during the same era.



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