6 Personal Commitments to Help Prepare You For Today’s Police Work
With civil disobedience and physical action being taken against law enforcement officials, the police are revisiting how they live, learn, and adapt. Once a candidate is offered a position as a police officer, additional education, field experience, and lifestyle changes are underway. Several transformations going forward include how an officer thinks, behaves, and trains.
The “warrior mindset” has been a phrase known to police officials for some time with regards to human performance. Lt. Colonel (retired) Dave Grossman and Michael J. Asken published their work in 2010, largely focusing on training for elite fitness and mental well-being. Grossman often conducts courses for police officers.
It is hard to absorb the safety of law enforcement has taken a downward turn, however, departments and organizations have to adjust to the communities’ needs and evolve to combat societal dissonance. More so now than ever before, an officer’s lifestyle and education may affect their job performance and even be critical for survival. Below are some tips which can be incorporated by any individual to enhance their mental and physical skill sets:
- Be active. Physical fitness has never been more paramount in law enforcement than it is today. There are so many advantages obtained from regular exercise aside from long term health benefits. In police work, the first thing that might come to mind is endurance in a foot pursuit or a fight. It goes beyond that. Fitness accelerates your stamina during an average work day, leading to less mental and physical fatigue. It helps sustain your mental clarity and alertness. Ultimately, you might be in the fight for your life. Why wouldn’t you want to be prepared to the best of your ability? In that one moment, you can’t afford to learn from hindsight.
- Don’t be insane in the membrane. Our mental status, comprised of both physiological and psychological needs, is key to regulating our ability to make sound decisions, react to dynamic situations, and have empathy for citizens. Along with taking care of one’s emotional stability, police officers should focus on some type of sleep regime. Quality rest attributes greatly to mental focus. This can be difficult to juggle with family time and shift work. Hobbies and off duty activities are also important to balancing one’s well-being.
- Eat for life. Feed the machine. Although it is not probable that all persons will embrace clean eating habits, most can incorporate eating proper portions and fresh foods. This is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Some tips for better lifestyle habits: 1) avoid processed foods, 2) eat fresh or whole foods, 3) limit refined sugars, and 4) eliminate or at least reduce soda intake. Sure, we can indulge in our favorite pastries once in a while, but overeating has taken a toll on the belt line. Who wants those tools poking us in the muffin top or excess pudge jeopardizing our safety or physical abilities?
- Train the brain. Police training courses are abundant all over the United States. The Peace Officer Standards and Training commission in each state requires a certain amount of training hours for law enforcement to keep their certification. These are paid by the officer’s affiliated departments and are required to keep an active duty status. In fact, if an officer falls short of the qualifications, they can be suspended and/or terminated and lose their state certification. Above and beyond the necessary courses, there are schools some officers pay for out of pocket or find sponsors to fund their attendance. Additionally, many written material resources are available to read which include the latest and greatest in police work, updated procedures, case law, and personal betterment.
- Keep apprised of your situational awareness and emotional intelligence. Hone in on your peripheral skills by surveying your surroundings and staying alert. You can keep fresh by doing simple drills and being mindful to scan as you drive, stand, or travel by foot to calls. Assess your cruiser parking locations. Always review your exits, entrances, and evaluate for dangerous accesses. Along the same lines, keep these drills in mind when you engage in contact with people. Pay attention to their behavior and body language.
- Be active in your community. Police officers can do this on and off duty and it is often second nature for most. Becoming a member of the community you work in by participating in city activities, charities, or chatting with the locals will make a big impact on police receptiveness. Building community partnerships is helpful in bridging the gaps between the public and the police.
Whether you are currently an officer or thinking about becoming one, you can begin today by implementing many of these tips into your daily regimen. Early in my patrol career, I learned the hard way when I was barely able to physically sustain a long foot pursuit ending in a physical fight. I vowed to never again be a liability to my peers. Today, it has become more imperative to out train and outsmart those who vilify officers and attack our community peace. This advice might seem basic and common sense, but refusing to become complacent is crucial. After all, we all want to go home to our loved ones after keeping our cities safe.