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Since taking my oath of office in 2003 as a police officer, most of my career has been spent preventing crime through patrols, directed enforcement, and citizen and vehicle contacts.  We spent 23 weeks in the police academy being yelled at and participating in a demanding physical fitness program that modeled a military boot camp preparing for our time in the patrol cars for 25-30 years, if we made it to graduation day.

The boot camp atmosphere was designed to teach police recruits how to control stress and not overreact when verbally and physically assaulted in the field.  One of the lessons we continually received from numerous instructors in the academy was to practice mental rehearsal.

  • When responding to a burglar alarm, for instance, rehearse in your mind what you would do if it was not just another false alarm.
  • You are responding to a domestic violence call, what will you do if it is an officer ambush you are about to enter?

The list goes on and on, and mental rehearsal does not have an on/off switch.  Unfortunately, it stays on when you are off-duty too, leading to a constant state of hyper-vigilance.  The positive is that the mastery police officers have of this technique can also be channeled to increase their resiliency, thus preventing self-destruction through negative coping skills.

We are all capable of preventing more than just crime, but often self-reflection is something that is easier to avoid than something as dangerous as violent criminals.

By using the HUMAN Ext stress reduction program, police officers and first responders can learn about why they react to distress the way that they do after identifying their reactions, tracing those reactions to their biography, and identifying ways to reduce the reaction level to such distress either in that moment, Now or Not Now, soon, or in the future: Good Enough for Now.

Self-awareness is a very powerful tool that can be extremely helpful in so many facets of our lives.  This program guides users to become more aware of their own – personal stress, i.e. mortgage, latest argument, kid’s birthday… all the normal load on top of the job.  Tracking and using where those reactions stem from allows the individual to develop a plan to reduce such adverse reactions through awareness and planning. Actually stepping into the stress in a proactive way – just like answering the call to whichever situation is happening.  The mental rehearsal and readiness pays off and leads to better sense of self-control.

HUMAN Ext is a powerful self-guided teaching platform; an added benefit is that the HUMAN Ext program allows users to log their progress through a secure phone application (the data stays in the application and does not go anywhere else).  The data is like a set of personal case notes.  These notes will help the user see the bigger picture.

This program is your personal early warning system.

Tracking data alone can be not only frustrating but also not helpful in a timely manner. Yes, there officers are late to report, slowed down by illness, get over reactive and many more obvious behaviors, often times, there is a reason behind the noticeable changes in officer behaviors.

Most police agencies track certain data through an early warning system to identify officers who may be experiencing personal or professional problems.  Data such as tardiness, absenteeism, disciplinary action, use of force, demeanor complaints, etc. will be collected by an agency and will result in an early warning flag being raised when certain parameters are met in the software.

Speaking from my experience as a police administrator and instructor of police stress and officer wellness topics, sadly the early warning flag sometimes comes when it is too late to save the officer’s career, marriage, quality of life, and in extreme cases, their life.

HUMAN Ext will allow officers to be their own tracking system, making necessary adjustments to avoid setting off any departmental flags, but more importantly leading a happier life.

It is helpful to know the baseline of how you respond to the stressors of both life at home and at work.  Self-actualization that you are reacting in a manner inconsistent with your baseline can raise your own personal warning flag.  This early alert may help you realize the need to speak about the “F” word, feelings, with someone before the negative coping skills cause you to spiral out of control in both your personal and professional life.

Are you normally the calm voice of reason on a tense scene?  Have you realized other officers are now dreading your arrival due to the fact that you have been escalating encounters lately?

How about at home?  Are you avoiding going home and instead signing up for overtime you do not need, or taking a late call despite being the senior officer on the street?  Take note of the warning signs, use HUMAN to track your responses, and be your own early warning system.

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