Police department Personnel Stress Resilience training: An Institutional Case Study



Police department Personnel Stress Resilience training: An Institutional Case Study

Published on: 15-03-2014

The objective of this case study was to test the impact in law enforcement personnel of an innovative self-regulation and resilience  building  program  delivered  via  an  iPad  (Apple  Inc,  Cupertino,  California)  app  and  personal  mentoring.  The  Stress  Resilience  Training  System  (SRTS)  app  includes  training  on  stress  and  its  effects,  HRV  coherence  biofeedback,  a  series  of  HeartMath  self-regulation  techniques  (The  Institute  of  HeartMath,  Boulder  Creek,  California),  and  HRV-controlled  games.  The  stressful  nature  of  law  enforcement  work  is  well  established,  and  the  need  for  meaningful  and  effective stress resilience training programs is becoming better understood, as it has been in the military. Law enforce-ment and military service share many stress-related features including psychological stressors connected with the mis-sion, extended duty cycles, and exposure to horrific scenes of death and injury. San Diego (California) Police Department personnel  who  participated  in  the  study  were  12  sworn  officers  and  2  dispatchers,  10  men  and  4  women.  The  SRTS  intervention comprised an introductory 2-hour training session, 6 weeks of individualized learning and practice with the  SRTS  app,  and  four  1-hour  telephone  mentoring  sessions  by  experienced  HeartMath  mentors  spread  over  a  four  week period. Outcome measures were the Personal and Organizational Quality Assessment (POQA) survey, the mentors’ reports  of  their  observations,  and  records  of  participants’  comments  from  the  mentoring  sessions.  The  POQA  results  were overwhelmingly positive: All four main scales showed improvement; Emotional Vitality improved by 25% (P=.05) and Physical Stress improved by 24% (P=.01). Eight of the nine subscales showed improvement, with the Stress subscale, perhaps  the  key  measure  of  the  study,  improving  by  approximately  40%  (P=.06).  Participant  responses  were  also  uniformly positive and enthusiastic. Individual participants praised the program and related improvements in both on-the-job performance and personal and familial situations. The results support the efficacy of the program to achieve its goal of building stress resilience and improving officer wellness by providing practical self-regulation skills for better man-agement of emotional energy. We conclude that the SRTS program for building resilience and improving psychological wellness can be as effective for law enforcement as it is for military personnel.

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