Janesville47.2°

Stress session can help cops cope

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Ryan Broege
June 2, 2012
— Police officers are taught to trust less and control more.

This approach makes for effective policing, but it can spoil relationships and invite stress away from the job.


That was the message at the latest training session held for the Janesville Police Department.


“I’ve been in law enforcement for 28 years, and this is the first time I’ve heard this message,” Janesville Police Sgt. Brian Donohoue said.


The Janesville Police Department is training its staff how to handle the stressors of law enforcement.


Kent Williams, police chief in Bartlett, Ill., owns Breach Point Consulting, the company enlisted to do the training.


All 102 sworn officers and 18 civilian employees will attend one of three sessions at Rotary Gardens, Janesville, the last of which will be Thursday. The department reached out to every department in the county as well as the city of Madison and university police departments and invited them to send officers.


During the eight-hour sessions, Williams coaches officers on strategies and approaches to avoid what he calls, “the caustic risks of performing well in law enforcement.”


Traits that make for a good officer—hyper-vigilance, preparation for the worst-case scenario and absence of trust—can lead to an isolated and harmful life away from the job, Williams said.


“Some of the things you do on the street don’t work at home,” Donohoue said. “At work, you have to take control of the situation immediately, and certainly you don’t want to treat your family like that.”


Police departments often overlook the type of training offered by Williams. But his message is resonating with officers that have attended the sessions, Deputy Chief Dan Davis said.


“He’s lived it,” Davis said. “In the examples he uses and his responses to certain stressors, it’s something that other police officers can relate to.”


Williams said he wants to tear down the stigma associated with mental health issues among members of law enforcement.


“Society sometimes places unreasonable expectations on police to be superhuman, and they often are the strong one psychologically and emotionally,” Williams said. “They are also human.”


Donohohoue agrees with that assessment.


“When officers are out in the field dealing with life-changing situations, the trauma and the daily incidents, sometimes you forget that you need to have a healthy mind, too,” Donohoue said.


TO LEARN MORE


The Janesville Police Department is hosting stress-management training for law enforcement. Deputy Chief Dan Davis said the sessions are appropriate for adult family members of law enforcement.


The last session will be in the lobby of Rotary Gardens from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.


Those interested in attending should call Sgt. Brian Donohoue at (608) 755-3133.



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