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Key Points About Stress and Wellness for Law Enforcement Leadership

John Violanti, Professor, University at Buffalo; Wendy Stiver, Major, Dayton (Ohio) Police Department; Dan Grupe, Associate Scientist, University of Wisconsin

John Violanti, research professor at University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions; Wendy Stiver, major at the Dayton (Ohio) Police Department; and Dan Grupe, associate scientist at University of Wisconsin’s Center for Healthy Minds discuss what they believe law enforcement leadership should focus on when dealing with officer health and wellness. This includes identifying trauma and warning signs for suicide, utilizing a “preventive maintenance” approach to the health and wellness of officers, and finding ways that can help officers deal with everyday stressors.

The speakers in this video took part in the NIJ Research for the Real World Seminar "Protecting Against Stress & Trauma: Research Lessons for Law Enforcement." 

JOHN VIOLANTI: When leadership has close contact with the people that work the street, they're going to do better, they need to understand what trauma is, they need to be educated at identifying trauma, and most recently we need to be identifying the warning signs for suicide.

WENDY STIVER: I think probably one of the biggest, easiest things for a law enforcement leader to remember is that the biggest asset we have in policing are our people. And so with any piece of equipment we have in our inventory, we pay attention to preventative maintenance. Our vehicles-- we make sure that our vehicles are serviced regularly, you know, computers and technology and all of these things require constant on-going maintenance to keep them in good working condition and our people need that too. DAN GRUPE: I think that one thing that's really valuable for both law enforcement officers but also the general public to know is that the things that we might think of as being the most stressful or difficult for officers to deal with aren't necessarily the things that they report being the most difficult or that are associated with negative outcomes. So-- but really when you ask officers what's the most stressful part of their work, it's the same thing that you or I may find stressful about our work, it's deadlines, reports, it's bosses who don't understand them and it's all that compounded daily occupational stress. To promote resilience in this population to allow people to thrive in their work. We really need to focus on providing officers with way to deal with that kind of day-in day-out stress, and we also need to focus on organizational support so that the workplace is less stressful for them.

Date Created: January 14, 2020