Breaking Blue: Emotional survival and graduation
On the final day of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) Citizens Academy, class discussion centered on emotional survival in law enforcement. It has become a priority for DCSO, and we were reminded of the importance of mental health, particularly in this line of work. DCSO officers and first responders are faced with emotionally taxing scenarios and traumatic incidents on a regular basis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year. More than 50% will be diagnosed at some point in their lifetime. An average career for a police officer is 20 years, in which time an officer will likely experience at least 188 traumatic events. The DCSO Wellness Program is a resource that addresses reintegration after an incident, mental health, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and offers wellness programs such as neurofeedback, physical therapy and acupuncture.
As family members and friends filled the room to celebrate the graduates of the program, the smiling faces of fellow classmates reflected pride and honor for partaking in this program and learning about DCSO. Undersheriff Dave Walcher spoke to the class about the importance of community engagement and how citizens can actively participate in strengthening their relationship with law enforcement and public agencies.
I was given the opportunity to share my perspective and give feedback on the program. As a new transplant to Colorado, the Citizens Academy provided me insight into the Castles Pines community and how Douglas County strives to improve the lives of its residents. I thanked our instructor Deputy Brian McKnight for spearheading the Citizens Academy. DCSO put thought into and allocated numerous resources for this program. I also thanked my classmates who were inspiring, engaging and thoughtful.
If you are interested in learning about community partnership with law enforcement and public agencies, sign up for programs like the Citizens Academy. South Metro Fire Rescue recently started its citizen’s program. Some of these programs are a one-day class and others are a multi-week program. DCSO will be accepting applications for the fall Citizens Academy starting in July. To learn more, visit https://dcsheriff.net/community/citizens-academy.
Article and photo by ViVi Somphon