Emotional and Mental Well-Being Program for New Jersey Law Enforcement Officers

Source: RLS Media

Addressing a rise in reported police suicides nationwide, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal issued a law enforcement directive implementing the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement (NJRP-LE), a program to train officers in resiliency and to become better equipped to handle the daily stress of police work that, when left unchecked, may lead to physical ailments, depression, and burnout.

As part of the Directive, Attorney General Grewal announced the creation of a Chief Resiliency Officer (CRO) who will be responsible for ensuring implementation of the statewide program. Grewal has selected Robert Czepiel, the Chief of the Prosecutors Supervision and Training Bureau in the Division of Criminal Justice, as the state’s first-ever CRO, who will be responsible for overseeing the statewide program.

New Jersey will become the first state in the country to require that all state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies designate a Resiliency Program Officer (RPO) who will be specifically trained in, and ultimately train, their department personnel.

“We cannot fully comprehend the emotional and mental stress that our law enforcement officers suffer on a daily basis,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We owe it to them to not only combat the stigma associated with seeking help, but also to give them the tools they need to deal with the stress and trauma they endure.

“It is our hope that this program will serve as a first line of communication allowing officers to unburden job stresses and provide them with the support they deserve. We can no longer allow them to suffer in silence.”

Job stress puts law enforcement officers at a higher risk for health- and social-related issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, substance misuse, family and relationship stress, and self-harm.
EDITOR’S NOTE: And let’s not overlook the job-related issue of the harm that could be done to the very people they’re supposed to be protecting and serving.

Officers are provided with techniques and services that help them to “spiral up” and meet day-to-day challenges. The program emphasizes officers’ positive strengths, rather than their weaknesses. Based upon the belief that people are not born resilient but rather learn to be resilient through life experiences, the NJRP-LE promotes and encourages a “growth mindset,” as opposed to a restrictive “fixed mindset.”

Officially known as AG Directive 2019-1, program will also recognize that officers must feel comfortable speaking with an RPO. NJRP-LE will protect the confidentiality of communications between a law enforcement officer and an RPO. Law enforcement officers will be provided a list of all RPOs throughout the state, giving them the option to speak to an RPO outside of their department. The Directive also encourages law enforcement agencies to use Chaplain programs to promote open communication.

Also, every law enforcement agency in the state must appoint at least one Resiliency Program Officer who, once trained, will be responsible for implementing the NJRP-LE in their agency. Every law enforcement officer in the state is to be trained in NJRP-LE by the end of 2022.

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