TALLAHASSEE — On Dec. 17, the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) and Florida State University’s Institute for Justice Research and Development (IJRD), alongside Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) and Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Jr., announced a collaborative new training program, “Resiliency Behind the Badge,” aimed at identifying and addressing post-traumatic stress in law enforcement officers across the state.
“Every day our law enforcement officers report for duty, they are unsure of what lies ahead. They are prepared to bravely run toward danger, witness painful and traumatic events, and risk their own lives to save others at a moment’s notice,” said Speaker Sprowls. “That unique work environment can take its toll, both physically and mentally. It is important that we take care of our law enforcement officers and provide them the support they need.”
The “Resiliency Behind the Badge” Training Program fills a critical need in the law enforcement community. Officers are frequently exposed to violence and suffering while on duty, and experiencing extremely stressful events not only causes emotional stress, but can impact the brain and body, resulting in post-traumatic stress. However, officers often don’t recognize or have the tools to handle their own needs related to witnessing these stressful events.
“The stress and trauma law enforcement officers experience on a day-to-day basis is not something that is talked about enough. This innovative program is a positive step in addressing this issue head on and ensuring the proper supports are in place for law enforcement officers,” said Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz, president of the FSA. “We’re excited to offer this new training and hope that sheriff’s offices throughout Florida will benefit from this valuable resource.”
“IJRD is proud to partner with the Florida Sheriffs Association on this important initiative. While departments routinely focus on maintaining an officer’s physical health, it is equally as important to address their mental health as well, including the effects of exposure to extremely stressful or traumatic events. Healthy officers are better equipped to safely serve their community,” said Carrie Pettus-Davis, PhD, MSW, founder and executive director of IJRD. “Law enforcement officers experience an extraordinary amount of stress on the job. Providing them with specific techniques to understand and manage that stress can help improve their overall well-being and response to future events.”
The “Resiliency Behind the Badge” Training Program will provide law enforcement officers with:
• A framework to understand how witnessing suffering and violence can influence an officer both at home and on the job.
• Calming techniques to use when experiencing stressful work situations and their aftereffects.
“What law enforcement officers often consider to be routine, on-the-job experiences, most ordinary citizens would recognize as traumatic events. By normalizing conversations about stress and trauma in the law enforcement community, we can help officers better understand the mental and physical impacts of their job and ensure they have the resources they need to stay balanced,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson, Jr, a former president of the FSA.
The “Resiliency Behind the Badge” Training Program was developed by Florida State University’s Institute for Justice Research and Development. The trainings, led by Amberly Prykhodko, Director of Clinical and Professional Services at IJRD, will be available to Sheriff’s offices across the state through the Florida Sheriffs Association.