Mindfulness: The Police Chief

"The Role of Mindfulness Training in Policing a Democratic Society," by Lieutenant Richard Goerling, was spurred by Mindful's feature story, "To Pause and Protect."

In Mindful‘s October issue, Lieutenant Richard Goerling of the Hillsboro Police Department in Oregon told journalist Maureen O’hagan: “We are so impacted by the toxicity of our profession, so consumed by our jobs, we don’t know what to do.” In the April issue of The Police Chief magazine, Goerling lays out the kinds of shifts that need to take place “to build a police organizational and cultural construct that has resilience (prevention) at its core.”

From Goerling’s article:

Police training, generally, devotes much energy in training concepts of situational awareness […] Awareness of the landscape (physical, environmental, human, industrial, etc.) is the first factor in staying safe in all emergency response professions. Assessing the behavior of persons confronted by police officers is an equally critical ingredient to officer safety. Mindfulness training is situational awareness “graduate school.” Through greater self-awareness, police officers can learn greater situational awareness and develop the ability to be present, focused, and grounded in the naturally occurring fog where heroes meet crises.

Goerling argues that while research is beginning to show the positive benefits of mindfulness in coping with stress and post-traumatic stress disorder, “much work remains to be done as mindfulness training in policing evolves to meet the unique culture and operational environment of policing.”

Goerling notes that a pilot project looking into Mindfulness-Based Resilience Training at the Hillsboro Stress Reduction Clinic with three sets of police officers from different agencies is underway. While the clinic is waiting on results, officers are self-reporting improvements in sleep, pain management, emotional regulation, and emotional intelligence.

Read the full article.