NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Norfolk Police Department is implementing new training to improve officers’ wellness and resiliency.
Officers are required to be physically fit for the job, but NPD wants to make sure its officers are mentally fit, too.
The evidence-based VALOR initiative training program focuses on helping officers to improve their well-being, supporting each other, and how to make healthy decisions.
10 On Your Side spoke with some officers who’ve already been through the training and they said it’s been a big help.
With a combined 33 years of service, sergeants Rich Creamer and Melinda Wray have seen a lot.
“Our officers commonly are exposed to different stressors and traumas on an everyday basis,” Wray said.
“After years and years, or shift after shift, we can kind of let that negativity creep into our thoughts,” Creamer said.
With such a stressful line of work, the Norfolk Police Department is providing training to its force.
“What this training does is it allows us to know that it’s ok for those things to affect us,” Wray said.
The training gives officers a new set of tools to reduce anxiety on and off the job such as breathing techniques and other coping mechanisms.
“Utilizing the three building blocks which is mind, energy and connection and learning more about those skills,” Creamer said.
“You’re literally re-wiring your mind to think a different way, so for me, it’s daily work to implement some of the training they’ve provided us,” Wray said.
Along with veterans on the force, Norfolk police said recruits in the academy will get the training.
Overall, the department hopes this will improve officer performance and interaction with the community, along with quality of life.
“The big thing is a well officer is a safe officer. We want to remind our officers that reaching out for help is not a weakness,” Creamer said.
The training will start in the spring and the department hopes to have all officers finished at the end of the year.