Project Best Practice - The Power of POWER

28 Jan 2020

The Power of POWER

Police officers face daily threats to their physical and psychological health. The job has become more difficult than ever. Law enforcement agencies struggle to hire enough new officers to keep up with losses due to incumbent officers who retire, quit, leave due to disability, or, most tragically, are killed in the line of duty.

Dr. Konstantinos P resizedAn alarming number of police officers commit suicide.  And, there are far too many officers who are terminated for some act of misconduct. The vast majority of officers who end up terminated were not innately corrupt. They began their law enforcement careers after passing a rigorous hiring process, which included a polygraph and psychological evaluation. They had hopes of making a positive difference in their community.  Often however, the nature of the job, including external operational critical incidents and internal organizational challenges, fundamentally changes many police officers.      

Nevertheless, there is some hope. POWER stands for Police Officer Wellness, Ethics, & Resilience. POWER is more than just a new book, which presents evidence-based strategies to assist law enforcement agencies in implementing policy programs to promote wellness for their personnel. POWER is the start of a movement to change how police officers are hired, trained, supervised, promoted, disciplined, and, most importantly, supported.  The goal is for police executives to adopt a culture of wellness where officers’ psychological security is viewed to be as important as their physical safety.

Many of the psychological dangers facing police officers are not well-known to police executives.  Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is familiar, most police officers never develop this condition despite their extensive exposure to death and human suffering.

Conversely, compassion fatigue, moral injury, moral distress, and burnout are more common among police officers, but not well-understood by most police executives. For that matter, many of these conditions are just now getting some much-needed attention in the law enforcement scholarly literature.

However, these difficulties have been extensively researched in other professions. Moral injury, for example, has received considerable attention among military service members and veterans, Also, compassion fatigue has been studied among healthcare providers, whose experience with crisis and trauma parallels that of police officers, These psychic wounds lead to a variety of on-duty and off-duty problems, including decreased motivation, compromised decision-making, impaired relationships with co-workers and family members, and a variety of medical concerns. Dr. Dan Blumberg resized

A POWER perspective shifts the emphasis away from a reactive approach that focuses on officers’ problems to a preventative orientation designed to prevent and minimize these problems. POWER sees the interconnected relationships among officers’ wellness, their ethical decision-making, and their job satisfaction.  Police executives who foster an organization’s culture of wellness understand the reality of the psychological risks of the job and put in place numerous programs, policies, and procedures to support officers’ health and wellbeing. This becomes a vital feature of efforts to improve officer retention, morale, and, just as importantly, community relations.  Ultimately, POWER is another risk management tool that keeps officers and the public safer and more secure. 

Dr. Blumberg and Dr. Konstantinos Papazoglou have recently published their book entitled POWER (Police Officer Wellness, Ethics, & Resilience). A group of amazing authors/contributors provided their knowledge/expertise towards the completion of this great project. In addition, they were honoured that the POWER book was awarded the Platinum Award for scientific contribution to homeland security on 20 November 2019 by American Security Today.

Feel free to spread the word to your social media and amongst colleagues and friends.

There is a discount code (FOREN319) offering 30% discount for IPA members who want to order.

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May-Britt V.R. Ronnebro, Secretary General