I grew up in Dallas, Texas, which is a city of over a million people and spans across 5 counties. What I’m trying to say here is that there are a lot of people from all walks of life and many different cultures. You can imagine the challenges any type of public service entails.
Last year five Dallas police officers were killed during a demonstration, and the department looked into different ways to help everyone deal with the stress and grief. An anonymous benefactor donated funds for 500 officers to attend Mindful Badge training.
The concept of mindfulness is popping up in many contexts recently. I’ve seen it promoted for business people as a way to work “in the zone”, for others as a way to be more creative, and now for police as a way to be more calm and alert. In other words, the concepts of meditation have been repackaged for the western world. As a teacher, I know you have to start from the place your students inhabit. So, this makes sense to me.
Mindfulness changes the conversation and the experience around occupational stress and trauma. In short, this is Trauma Informed Resiliency. Training mindfulness is a preventative measure that equips police officers to perform through occupational trauma with greater capacity for awareness (self and situational), cognitive performance, and humanity (compassion, empathy, non-judgement). These ingredients are critical as we make our way forward in policing in the 21st Century.
The founder, Richard Goerling, has an impressive background in armed forces and civilian policing. As he discovered the benefits of meditation, he decided to bring them to first responders. His purpose is to bring an evolution in purpose and action to this part of our society. This is the first time I’ve seen this approach. When you think about the training and daily life of the military and civilian first responders, it is all about recognizing and neutralizing danger, which means that is what you look for, and what you will see.
Mr. Goerling goes on to say – We believe strongly that a warrior ethos grounded in awareness and compassion is necessary for an officer to navigate the arch of their career with positive outcomes.
Kudos to you and all the officers who are working for this outcome.