Every morning I get up early and head to the gym. People ask me why I do it? I usually joke about the fact that some people eat to live, but I live to eat (so exercising means I can eat more of what I like)! Actually, it is much more complicated than that. In fact, at this point I cannot imagine NOT working out.
I think that exercise keeps me grounded. It relieves stress and clears my mind. There is no doubt that it is part of a “balanced” life.
Wellness is about much more than physical exercise. It is about body yes, but also being strong in mind and soul. Employees who are stressed out about a troubled marriage, financial difficulties, or health problems are not as productive as those who have tools to deal with life’s challenges. Many companies have been investing in the fitness and wellness of their employees for years. They know that balanced employees help the bottom line, and that unbalanced or sick employees are not as productive. Police departments are no different.
DPD and Wellness
I recently asked my staff to review our department’s wellness program and to make recommendations and changes to ensure that we maintained our commitment to helping officers stay balanced. We made a few changes, decentralized many of the functions, and spread the responsibility for wellness to numerous areas within the department (too much of the burden for our wellness function was handled by one officer – making it in unfair to him and impossible to manage effectively).
Here is a snapshot of what we are currently doing in the Denver Police Department to promote all facets of wellness:
- The Denver Police Foundation funded a program for all offers to receive low cost heart scan screening. http://www.porterhospital.org/dpdheart
- The Denver Police Department sponsors a Health Fair each Fall
- iSatori Fitness sponsors two fitness challenges to officers every year
- Wellness classes are available through the police training bureau each year
- New police recruits are instructed in “Cross Fit” and coached in healthy lifestyle choices (http://youtu.be/tHeLnM00-pc)
- The police department maintains a vibrant peer support program to assist officers with difficult life-situations
- Officers have no-cost access to psychological services for them and their families
- The police department recently sponsored a positive marriage program
- The department offers a “spouses” academy for new recruits families so that they better understand the job and have realistic expectations
- The Denver Police Officers Foundation assists numerous officers who experience a onetime financial crisis in their personal lives
- The police department has a Chaplain’s program to ensure that spiritual services are available to officers upon request
- The Manager of Safety’s Human Resources Bureau works with Kaiser Permanente to monitor health trends and work towards preventative programs
- The department has a wellness rewards program which provides incentives for reaching positive goals in all areas of wellness
As you can see, we place a great emphasis on wellness and desire that our employees have every opportunity to be and remain healthy and balanced. It is my hope that police employees take advantage of the many wellness opportunities. In the short term, it helps the community, but in the long term, it will afford them and their family’s long and productive lives.