Call response times. Number of calls handled. Number of arrests. Number of tickets issues. Number of property crimes. Number of violent crimes. Total numbers of calls for service. Use of force numbers. These are all numbers we tend to track and pay attention to.
Are we however, ignoring some of the other critical numbers such as:
- Hours of sleep every day.
- Body weight.
- Percentage of body fat (as weight alone can be deceiving).
- Blood pressure.
- Daily activity levels.
- Numbers of workouts per week.
- Bank account balances.
- Balance in your personal retirement fund account.
- Credit card balances.
- Number of sick days every year.
While the numbers and stats outlined in the first paragraph are important from an agency and community standpoint, the above set of numbers are critically important for the individual officers, their families, and their agencies. These numbers will reflect the physical and financial health of your officers.
Sleep is critical to our physical and emotional health, for learning and processing of trauma and to our ability to make sound decisions. Sleep takes a big hit during our careers because of shift work, work demands, and life and family commitments. It is important to educate recruits in the academy about the importance of sleep, the phases of sleep, the impact of sleep deprivation and sleep hygiene. It is equally important to have a culture in your agency and your ongoing training that reinforces the importance of sleep. If you do not already have a restorative rest policy in your agency, then look at developing one.
Speaking from personal experience it is easy to let your weight and blood pressure numbers creep up during your career. When I retired, I weighed 275 pounds and was fat. Fortunately, I was able to lose 40 pounds in the first 5 months of my retirement, I have continued to monitor and work on those numbers and now weigh 70 pounds less than I did when I retired 17 years ago. My weigh scale is a body composition scale so I can also monitor my body fat percentages. It is common for many officers to have their weight and blood pressure numbers increase over the course of their career. I worry when I see some of the pictures of officers when they retire. We need to pay attention to our body weight, body composition, blood pressure and other health factors so we can live long enough to fully enjoy our pension and retirement from law enforcement.
If officers are not in a financially healthy position, it will have a direct negative effect on their physical and mental health and their relationships. Financial issues are a huge cause of personal and marital stress for officers. It is one of the reasons so many officers work as much overtime and as many extra duty jobs as they can, just to try and make ends meet. This results in additional physical stress, places a strain on relationships and home life and results in getting even less sleep. Financial management training should start Week 1 of the Academy and continue throughout people’s careers.
If it is true that what gets measured gets managed, then let’s make sure we are talking with our people about some of the metrics that matter in relation to their overall health and wellness. These numbers will impact every element of their personal and professional life and have long term implications. They are also things that are under our control, which takes us back to the philosophy – Focus on what you control and control the controllable. The experts say that Type 2 Diabetes is completely preventable and completely reversable and that Alzheimer’s Disease is 98% preventable. That should cause us to sit up, take notice and take action.
Wondering why this is something you should be talking about in your training? Look at what is killing cops (on and off duty) and what is causing a significant number of early retirements and you will quickly realize that Wellness (physical, emotional and financial) is an Officer Safety issue. That is why.
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