This guide defines Lieutenants, Captains, Commanders, Chiefs, Commissioners, Sheriffs, and Superintendents as executive and senior leadership. The individuals who occupy these ranks represent the entire organization, its culture, and its value system. The focus on physical and mental wellness must be ingrained in your agency, and also in all of your actions. Messaging about the importance of wellness cannot be a “check-the-box” activity. Your organization must live and breathe the tenets of officer safety and wellness, and it all starts with you. Establishing a sound foundation of wellness within your organization prior to a traumatic or stressful event, such as a mass demonstration or protest, will allow your officers to approach the event with a healthy mindset and react appropriately during the event itself. After the event, they will be able to come to terms with and hopefully resolve the stresses and trauma they endured.
The following considerations should be something that all department heads must account for in any agency operations plan, no matter the event. As executive and senior leaders, you should also equip your mid-level supervisors with the resources and understanding to assist with addressing these needs (this includes any necessary training that clearly establishes your expectations).
When planning and implementing support for your officers and other agency staff during times of protest, it may be helpful to consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see diagram to the left),55 which states that basic needs must be met before any others to build upon as a foundation of health and wellness.
Valor Officer Safety and Wellness Program, Bureau of Justice Assistance
Reach out to others and use the resources available if you are struggling. It’s okay to not be okay.