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Law enforcement is one of the most demanding jobs any person can do. It requires officers to be physically fit, have a working knowledge of the law, policy and procedures, while also being compassionate, sympathetic and understanding. Every day officers may be required to apply physical force in a measured and calculated way in order to achieve tactical superiority that is acceptable to their communities’ expectations. In order to make sure officers are physically capable of handling these situations, departments have encouraged officers to maintain their physical health throughout their careers. Some departments allow officers to work out on duty or provide incentives such as pay stipends, awards, or department recognition in order to encourage good physical health. Despite this concerted effort, statistics show that an American police officer’s life expectancy is almost two decades shorter than the average citizen.

In addition, statistics also show we lose more officers by their own hand every year than we do to the hands of criminals. The effects of not addressing our officer’s mental health as well as their physical health can no longer be ignored. Being able to properly identify and correctly manage the years of trauma officers accumulate through victim interviews, crime scenes visited, and engaging the darker sides of humanity is imperative to the success of our profession. This interactive workshop will discuss how we as a profession, can better identify the deep scars various and secondary trauma creates on an officer’s psyche, and provide concrete, sustainable solutions to address and manage the trauma in a safe and healthy manner. As a profession we owe it to our officers to allow them to finish their careers in a healthy manner, both physically and mentally, so that retirement doesn’t only hold a smoking gun or a heart attack in a lounge chair, but is meaningful and sustainable.

Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to define what Vicarious and Secondary trauma is.
  2. Students will be able to identify the negative impacts of vicarious and secondary trauma on first responders physical and mental health.
  3. Students will be able to identity healthy and sustainable solutions to addressing the negative effects of vicarious and secondary trauma on first responders.