2. A Balanced Wellness Program
In a recent study on dealing with officers suffering from critical incidents, it was found that the average cost to a department was $8,600 if early treatment and intervention was provided. That cost rose to $46,000 if treatment was delayed. If that officer ends up leaving the force, the cost of replacing a 5-year veteran would exceed $100,000 according to FBI stats.
When treatment for critical injury is provided early, it costs on average $8,600 to the department. When treatment is delayed, the cost rises to $46,000.
Now what if we had a proactive approach that started with training and extended into the fabric of our department culture? What if we had programs that balanced physical and mental wellness and provided continuous training for coping and distress strategies? Of course there is a large initial investment, but the return on your investment would come in the result of employees that remain in the department longer, are more efficient and effective at their jobs and who are overall happier.
An example of a police department that is on the right track is Great Falls PD. They implemented a 3-part wellness program that involves a physical and mental component and an annual wellness check. If officers complete all three requirements, they earn 2-days off paid time. By providing incentives like this they have been able to drastically improve their participation rates. As time goes by, it will be easier to implement these programs as standard mandatory practice. Even more, it offers a balance between physical and mental wellbeing. The mental component covers coping strategies, stress management training and trauma protocol.
Great Falls PD 3-part wellness program.
Another example of doing it right is Toronto Police Service. With approximately 8000 members they offer the following benefits to all their employees:
- Flu prevention clinics
- Cardio metabolic risk assessment
- Counselling on physical fitness
- Proper Nutrition
- Maternity and parental leave programs
- Paid and unpaid family leave
- Multi-site childcare services with no late pick-up fees
- Emergency childcare services
- A family support service, including critical incident debriefing
- Multi-faith chaplaincy services
- Ongoing stress management training
- Training for unit commanders to help them understand employee issues
- Financial advice
Your department doesn’t have to go this far, but it gives a sense of the direction that some large agencies are headed in.