At oral boards, police questions are often related to contempory topics. Officer wellness and safety is one of the six pillars from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Final Report. Fortunately, the concept of officer wellness and safety has been given increased attention over the past decade and improvements have been made in many police agencies.
As you seek to promote to the rank of sergeant it is important that you see officer wellness and safety the same way your chief does. In many cases, chiefs do not see wellness and safety as purely the command staff’s job. Rather, they tend to believe that everyone has a role in officer wellness and safety. For that reason, I suggest that your oral board police sergeant preparation consider this topic.
ORAL BOARD POLICE SERGEANT QUESTION:
“What do you see as the sergeant’s role in advancing officer wellness and safety?”
Officer Wellness and Safety Answer
“Before discussing the role that I will play in officer wellness and safety once I am promoted to sergeant, I believe it is best to separate what is meant by both of those terms.
To me, officer wellness refers to the mental and physical state of our personnel whereas officer safety refers to the working environment, equipment, training, procedures, and overall behaviors of our officers. While I am well aware that as a supervisor I have a role in the wellness and safety of my officers, I believe each of us also has a personal role in maintaining our own wellness and safety.
With regards to wellness, I have personally adopted my own success techniques in this area that keep me at peak fitness both mentally and physically. What has worked for me is a combination of regular exercise and physical activity, strong relationships outside of work with people I trust, and using my hobbies as a release.
As a sergeant, I will be meeting regularly with my officers one on one as well as in a group setting to reinforce positive behaviors that contribute to wellness as well as looking for signs that someone may not be at peak wellness. For those who are not at peak wellness I will be intervening to try to determine the cause and work with them to set a plan to elevate their wellness level. In some cases, this may involve peer support officers or the employee assistance program. I recognize that one person’s decline in wellness may have an impact on the other officers who depend on that officer in the field, so I will be vigilant in these efforts of advancing officer wellness as a supervisor.
As for officer safety, my role as a sergeant will be multi-faceted. I will be reinforcing our organization’s training and procedures so that all officers are performing within the standards set by our chief. I will be monitoring environmental or equipment issues that may compromise safety and either correcting those issues or making recommendations up the chain of command for such corrections. And I will be inspecting officer behavior in the field to assure that their performance is professional and maximizes the safety of the officers as well as the citizens with whom they interact. If deficiencies or errors are observed, corrective action will be taken as soon as reasonable and the deficiency and correction will be documented. Follow up will occur after any correction to be sure that there was not a negative recurrence.
That is what I foresee my role to be regarding officer wellness and safety once I am promoted to sergeant.”