A new training program, “Resiliency Behind the Badge,” aimed at identifying and addressing post-traumatic stress will soon be available to law enforcement officers across the state.
The program is a collaborative effort between The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) and Florida State University’s Institute for Justice Research and Development (IJRD).
“The stress and trauma law enforcement officers experience on a day-to-day basis is not something that is talked about enough. This innovative program is a positive step in addressing this issue head on and ensuring the proper supports are in place for law enforcement officers,” said Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz, president of the FSA, during a virtual press conference. “We’re excited to offer this new training and hope that sheriff’s offices throughout Florida will benefit from this valuable resource.”
“While departments routinely focus on maintaining an officer’s physical health, it is equally important to address their mental health as well, including the effects of exposure to extremely stressful or traumatic events. Healthy officers are better equipped to safely serve their community,” said Carrie Pettus-Davis, PhD, MSW, founder and executive director of IJRD. “Law enforcement officers experience an extraordinary amount of stress on the job. Providing them with specific techniques to understand and manage that stress can help improve their overall well-being and response to future events.”
The training program will provide law enforcement officers insight into how witnessing suffering and violence can influence an officer both at home and on the job; calming techniques to use when experiencing stressful work situations and their aftereffects; tips to discuss post-traumatic stress with fellow officers who may be suffering in silence; and strategies to distinguish when to seek professional help and how to find help that is right for the individual.
Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor), the son of a retired New York police officer, spoke during the press conference, “Every day our law enforcement officers report for duty, they are unsure of what lies ahead. They are prepared to bravely run toward danger, witness painful and traumatic events, and risk their own lives to save others at a moment’s notice. That unique work environment can take its toll, both physically and mentally. It is important that we take care of our law enforcement officers and provide them the support they need.”
“What law enforcement officers often consider to be routine, on-the-job experiences, most ordinary citizens would recognize as traumatic events. By normalizing conversations about stress and trauma in the law enforcement community, we can help officers better understand the mental and physical impacts of their job and ensure they have the resources they need to stay balanced,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson Jr, a former president of the FSA.
The “Resiliency Behind the Badge” Training Program was developed by IJRD. The trainings, led by Amberly Prykhodko, Director of Clinical and Professional Services at IJRD, will be available to Sheriff’s offices across the state through the FSA.