Officer Safety & Wellness
The Officer Safety & Wellness Section (OSW) is designed to advocate for the mental and physical health and wellness of both policer officers and civilian staff members. The section came into existence roughly three years ago and has been under the watchful direction of Director Vernon Herron. When OSW was created, Director Herron was tasked with a huge undertaking as the Baltimore Police Department has never had a section or unit, whose focus is solely on the overall health and wellbeing of agency members. As a result, Director Herron assembled a group of passionate professionals and subject matter experts and created two units within OSW…Early Intervention and Health & Wellness.
Health & Wellness
The Health & Wellness Unit was created to focus on securing resources for officers that will assist them in transforming their minds and bodies while achieving personal goals they set for themselves. Stress mitigation/reduction, physical fitness, and nutrition are key components of the Health & Wellness program. Internal and external partnerships are key in ensuring that officers have a variety of options which will aid them in finding a wellness method that works for them. Furthermore, for the first time ever, yoga, mindfulness and meditation are being introduced to members as a means of stress reduction and mitigation. The Health & Wellness Unit has partnered with a sworn BPD officer who will be offering free yoga classes to Baltimore Police Department members, both sworn and civilian.
Achieving and/or maintaining health, wellness, and fitness goals should be exciting. The Health & Wellness team works passionately and diligently in creating innovative ways to keep members engaged.
The Health & Wellness team also responds to all Critical Incidents to provide support to members during difficult times. Critical Incidents include, but are not limited to:
- Line of duty death of a departmental member.
- Serious injury to a departmental member.
- Serious departmental accidents.
- Police Involved Shooting Incidents.
- Departmental member suffering from mental health issues.
The Early Intervention Unit (EIU) was created to monitor members who display potentially problematic behaviors that could (if gone unaddressed) result in disciplinary action, termination, and/or a personal crisis situation for the member. The goal of the unit is to speak with at-risk officers and get to the root cause of their issues before they become a major problems. If needed, wrap around services and resources are provided to the member. All actions taken by the EIU team are non-punitive, but do not interfere with any ongoing administrative investigations or disciplinary actions
Critical Incident Response
Members of the Officer Safety & Wellness Section respond to all police involved shooting incidents along with our mental health partner BHS (not to be confused with Behavioral Health System Baltimore aka BHSB or BHS Baltimore).
The goal is to ensure that officers feel completely supported during times that can be very taxing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Research shows that when a person experiences a traumatic incident, the structures of the brain involved in the ability to translate the experience into communicable language decreases in activity. For this and other reasons, BHS speaks with officers privately to make certain they are able to talk through their thoughts, feelings and emotions, which has proven to be extremely beneficial.
Officer Safety & Wellness staff members (sworn and civilian) are at the scene to provide a level of peer support. When officers who have been involved in a critical incident see a departmental member by their side, showing concern and compassion to them, it can help with the destressing process.
Officer Safety & Wellness supervisors’ follow-up with the involved member to make certain that he/she knows they are supported throughout their healing process, no matter how long or short it may be.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The Baltimore Police Department has a Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides assistance to all BPD employees. BHS, our mental health provider, offers free and confidential services to employees for mental health counseling, financial counseling, family counseling and work stress. These resources are available at no cost.