Each day in the line of duty, first responders are exposed to emotional and mental stressors while putting their lives on the line to protect those in their community. Due to the occupation’s immense mental and emotional weight, suicide rates among law enforcement officers are a concerning issue. To help lessen the impact of trauma on our local law enforcement officers and reduce officer suicide rates overall, Resilient Lehigh Valley hosted a 3-day Officer Resiliency Program in partnership with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and Moravian University

Designed to destigmatize asking for help and expressing mental and emotional health challenges, the Officer Resiliency Program equipped nearly 60 officers from local police departments with the skills, tools, and resources necessary to manage their work-related stress with healthy coping skills. The training included information on how to provide confidential peer support to fellow officers, as well as how to improve an officer’s own overall wellness. 

Participating law enforcement officers expressed their satisfaction with the training and shared how they’ve witnessed it further prepared their officers for their line of work. 

“We have found that one of the best ways to implement a trauma-informed policing program is to first train our officers on how to cope with their own trauma caused by the daily stressors of the law enforcement profession,” said Officer Dillard, Moravian University chief of police. “This helps officers see through an empathetic lens which can help them better understand the plight of the communities they serve, thereby creating relationships grounded in trust.”

Through the program, each participating law enforcement agency assigned one “Resiliency Program Officer” (RPO) to be specially trained to help their fellow officers handle the daily stress of their careers. RPOs trained through the Officer Resiliency Program now serve as department confidential resources for any officer wishing to discuss their professional or personal challenges, connect them to support services, and provide trauma-informed training to their department.

The Officer Resiliency Program had a profound impact on local officers. It empowered them to cope with trauma effectively and established a vital line of communication between officers and their departments, destigmatizing mental health discussions and creating an open and supportive environment for officers to address their well-being without fear of judgment openly.


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