Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy
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Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy

Mental Armor for Law Enforcement

6/18/2015
Physical wellness is often a part of an officer’s lifestyle to increase his or her safety on the streets, but “mental wellness” can sometimes be forgotten or ignored, despite years of stressful experiences or specific critical incidents. Some research points to job-created depression. In some cases depression coupled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms have contributed to an alarming rate of suicide among officers. 

In recent decades, soldiers returning from battle who have seen or have been involved in horrific incidents have been diagnosed with PTSD. That condition is sometimes triggered by simple and common events, creating subconscious reminders of those previous incidents. Officers must recognize that they can be involved in or witness traumatic incidents as well, and can also develop the traits of PTSD, which can directly affect their lives on and off the job.
 
Because caring for emotional wellbeing is critically important for law enforcement officers, the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy will soon begin developing a new, advanced training course, Mental Armor for Law Enforcement, in an effort to educate officers on the unique stressors inherent in the law enforcement community. This new course, which will be offered beginning in early 2016, will provide resources and techniques to cope with and effectively manage stress. The course will also address how police work affects loved ones.

Caring for officers’ mental wellness should be a team effort. Members of a department must keep watch on one another as their brothers’ keepers and constantly look for signs of abnormal or out-of-the-ordinary behavior in fellow officers. These signs could include increased aggression, reckless behavior, alcohol abuse, or isolation. 

Groups, such as chaplaincy centers, can also be an impartial sounding board for officers as a form of debriefing and can assist officers in coping with their daily mental wellness. For example, the Akron Police Department started a chaplaincy center for the welfare of all officers in the Akron and Summit County area more than a decade ago. Feel free to contact the Rev. Bob Denton, a reserve officer with the Akron Police Department and its chaplain, for any assistance in starting a chaplaincy center for your area. Reverend Denton can be reached at 330-329-4588. 

Anyone interested in additional information about the upcoming Mental Armor for Law Enforcement course should contact instructor Ron Davitt at 740-845-2700. 

OPOTA also offers several eOPOTA courses related to officer wellness, which can be found at OHLEG