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An Overall Wellness Improvement Plan for Officers

Introduction

A soldier’s job is demanding and stressful and is associated with higher mental and physical health risks than many other occupations. Multiple studies have demonstrated that when law enforcement officers’ health issues are neglected, their decision-making abilities, job performance, and general effectiveness are severely impaired. From this perspective, an officer’s health enhancement program should integrate such components as cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance. These objectives can be achieved by ensuring healthy eating habits, regular exercises, routine medical checkups, maintaining optimal weight levels, periodic training in defensive tactics, and undertaking such physically demanding activities as weekly Jiu-Jitsu classes. Similarly, it is imperative for the policing community to continuously improve their knowledge and skills to enhance their effectiveness in service delivery. Although physical and cognitive fitness constitutes a fundamental part of the program, the overall wellness plan will seek to promote officers’ resilience and such areas of emotional intelligence as empathy, stress tolerance, and conflict management.

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Wellness Improvement Plan for Officers’ Physical Domain

A typical day in law enforcement is characterized by incidences of physically demanding events. In every shift, officers encounter situations which threaten the safety of their colleagues and the public. As a result, it is critical to maintain high fitness levels to enhance their ability to perform daily tasks. According to Lentz et al. (2019), such components as cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance are indispensable elements of an ideal physical wellness improvement plan. Additionally, it should incorporate health concerns, mainly rest, nutrition, and illness resistance. On athleticism, the program will seek to promote the officers’ agility, flexibility, coordination, power, speed, balance, and reaction time.

Improving officers’ cardiovascular endurance and strength maximizes their oxygen uptake, effectively enhancing their ability to sustain physical activity for prolonged periods. The fitness program will involve thrice-a-week sessions of 60-90 minutes of anaerobic exercises focused on building speed and strength endurance. Such activities will include sprints, high-intensity interval training, CrossFit, weightlifting, biking, squats, and bench presses. The initial phase will last a month, and the intensity of the exercises will be moderate while seeking to increase the workout duration. Hibbert, Klawiter, Schubert, Nessler, and Asakawa (2021) contend that regular fitness efforts significantly reduce the risk of physical injury and the potential for developing cardiovascular diseases. To encourage officers and minimize their inclination to make excuses, they would be required to undertake the exercises in groups at least an hour before getting on duty. The goal under this option is to build endurance and strength and will be measured daily against the duration, speed, and undertaken activity. Therefore, the intensity, time, type, and frequency of these exercises will promote the muscular and cardiovascular wellness of the policing community.

In addition to endurance and strength, police officers require speed, agility, flexibility, power, accuracy, coordination, and short reaction time to discharge their duties effectively. To achieve athleticism, the officers will undertake leg strength activities, interval timed runs, jumping rope, running ladders, and swift directional changes for 60-90 minutes thrice a week to improve agility, flexibility, and balance. Weekly plyometric training, yoga, precision shooting exercise, and muscular coordination will enhance the officer’s overall physical wellbeing. Moreover, regular skill enrichment in such activities as defensive training with firearms and other professional tools and participating in Jiu-Jitsu sessions once a week will promote officers’ overall physical fitness. These will be evaluated against the individual’s mobility, dynamic balance, elasticity, stability, swiftness in executing such tasks as repositioning and releasing bouts of energy at short notice and will be measured monthly during exercise sessions.

Health is a fundamental constituent of a successful fitness regime and the overall wellness of law enforcement officers. Notably, such concerns as daily nutritional habits, rest, and illness resistance directly influence job performance and the attainability of the other fitness objectives. This implies that health forms the foundation against which all the other wellness aspirations are anchored. According to MacKenzie-Shalders, Matthews, Dulla, and Orr (2020), despite most officers recognizing the essence of embracing lifestyles of good dietary practices and adequate rest, the nature of their jobs impedes the achievability of these ideals. Additionally, Heinrich, Gurevich, Arkhangelskaia, Karazhelyaskov, and Poston (2020) note that nutritional challenges are widespread in policing than in any other profession due to the emergency lifestyle of the job. In this regard, this wellness improvement plan will promote healthy nutritional habits by encouraging officers to carry food to workplaces. Notably, this initiative will enhance the regularity of meals and minimize the potential for taking such unhealthy options as fast foods (Kosmadopoulos et al., 2019). The nutritional aspect of the wellness improvement plan will commence by encouraging the policing community to carry a snack or two for every shift.

Additionally, police officers will be encouraged to avoid such empty calories as processed junk foods and instead consume nutrient-dense meals. The healthier food options will include food options that promote fat loss and do not undermine fitness efforts, and carrying a packed meal is the easiest way to avoid malnutrition and obesity. According to Kim, So, and Kim (2020), high body fat percentage levels impede an officer’s physical performance. In this regard, the policing community will be encouraged to prepare their meals and carry them to work. The goal will be assessed monthly by conducting surveys on the number of officers taking homemade meals and those buying food from restaurants.

Further, police officers will be undergoing comprehensive medical checkups annually to monitor such vital health aspects as hypertension, diabetes, vision, and dentistry assessments. Cumulatively, the periodic and regular screening of the officer’s general wellbeing will minimize the risk of developing severe diseases and enhance the effectiveness of treatment once such illnesses occur. A study conducted by Jetelina, Molsberry, Gonzalez, Beauchamp, and Hall (2020) revealed that routine assessments on officers increase resistance to ailments by allowing doctors to identify health problems early when treatment chances are better. Moreover, the wellness improvement plan will amplify the essence of sleep as a modifiable risk factor for officers by promoting practices that increase rest hours. This goal will be measured annually by determining the number of officers who attend the medical checkups every year. The time frame for this objective is six months and will be measured through self-reported sleep hours and the number of officers on morning duties after being on the night shift.

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Wellness Improvement Program for Cognitive Domains

Police officers’ consciousness and mental sharpness are as paramount as their physical fitness. In this regard, they should continually enhance their cognitive abilities by improving their knowledge in job skills, advancing their education, trainability, and learning. Additionally, they should hone their judgment abilities through activities that sharpen their commonsense, logical decisions, anticipation, insights, flexibility, and adaptivity. In areas of application, the most effective officers should have planning, communication, and execution capacities as the essential skill set integral to the performance of police work. For instance, Andersen and Gustafsberg (2016) and Wood, Tyler, and Papachristos (2020) argue that perpetual training directly influences multiple aspects of police work, including such decisions on force application, stress tolerance, and conflict de-escalation. In this regard, this wellness improvement program will require the officers to commit to undertaking training sessions on various critical areas of their job, including knowledge enhancement, application skills, and judgment.

Continuous knowledge and skills improvement in policing are critical as officers need to stay ahead of criminal elements, apply newly acquired proficiency, and execute their duties more professionally. Wood, Tyler, and Papachristos (2020) posit that perpetual training programs significantly reduce adverse outcomes of police interactions with the community. An ideal knowledge improvement plan should be designed to advance the officers’ work-related skills, promote their discernment and decision-making, and the application of the acquired competencies. In the coming years, classes will include interpersonal skills, leadership, communication, planning, decision-making, and selected areas of psychology and sociology.

Overall Wellness Considerations

The specific areas of emotional intelligence that need improvement include relationship management, self-organization, social awareness, and self-consciousness. These areas will enhance the officers’ ability to control impulsive feelings, exercise empathy, maintain good and healthy associations, and recognize how their emotions affect their behaviors and thoughts. Additionally, the policing community’s resilience will be improved through stress management training, maintaining a holistic identity and connections outside policing, strengthening officers’ families, and promoting peer support through communication. Law enforcers will be trained to commit to getting help during tragic occurrences, which generate stress, grief, and trauma. Similarly, their financial wellbeing, although it has been improving over the years, will be enhanced and improved through the inclusion of benefits and discretionary compensations, which will help dignify the profession.

Conclusion

A comprehensively designed wellness program should promote the officers’ holistic wellbeing, focusing on their physical and cognitive domains. These can be achieved through plans that integrate cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance, nutritional health that emphasizes taking nutrient-dense homemade meals, and eliminating overweight. Continuous knowledge and skills improvement plans and emotional enhancement sessions cumulatively promote the overall wellness of officers and enhance their ability to discharge their mandates more effectively.

References

Andersen, J., & Gustafsberg, H. (2016). A training method to improve police use of force decision-making. SAGE Open, 6(2), 1−13. Web.

Heinrich, K., Gurevich, K., Arkhangelskaia, A., Karazhelyaskov, O., & Poston, W. (2020). Despite low obesity rates, body mass index under-estimated obesity among Russian police officers when compared to body fat percentage. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(6), 1−7. Web.

Hibbert, J., Klawiter, D., Schubert, M., Nessler, J., & Asakawa, D. (2021). Strength, cardiovascular fitness, and blood lipid measures in law enforcement personnel after a 12-week health promotion program. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Advance online publication, 1−8. Web.

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Jetelina, K., Molsberry, R., Gonzalez, J., Beauchamp, A., & Hall, T. (2020). Prevalence of mental illness and mental health care use among police officers. JAMA Network Open, 3(10), 1−12. Web.

Kim, J., So, W., & Kim, S. (2020). Association between body fat percentage and physical performance in Male Korean police officers. Sustainability, 12(9), 1−7. Web.

Kosmadopoulos, A., Kervezee, L., Boudreau, P., Gonzales-Aste, F., Vujovic, N., Scheer, F., & Boivin, D. (2020). Effects of shift work on the eating behavior of police officers on patrol. Nutrients, 12(4), 1−20. Web.

Lentz, L., Randall, J., Guptill, C., Gross, D., Senthilselvan, A., & Voaklander, D. (2019). The association between fitness test scores and musculoskeletal injury in police officers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(23), 1−12. Web.

MacKenzie-Shalders, K., Matthews, C., Dulla, J., & Orr, R. (2020). Law enforcement personnel are willing to change, but report influencing beliefs and barriers to optimized dietary intake. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1−9. Web.

Wood, G., Tyler, T., & Papachristos, A. (2020). Procedural justice training reduces police use of force and complaints against officers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(18), 9815−9821. Web.

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