BEND, Ore. – A ceremony was held on May 14 in Washington, D.C., where Associate Deputy Attorney General of the US Department of Justice Steven Cook, presented Bend Police Chief Jim Porter and his staff with the 2018 Valor program’s Officer Wellness Award. This award is in recognition for the Bend Police Department’s programs promoting physical fitness and overall well-being of Bend officers.
The Bend Police Department was chosen from departments all across the United States by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, to receive the award. The goal of the VALOR program is to prevent violence against law enforcement officers and ensure officer resilience and survivability in an effort to improve the immediate and long-term safety, wellness, and resilience of law enforcement officers in America.
The VALOR program is continuously evolving to address the various issues, concerns, and trends that law enforcement officers face. VALOR integrates the latest research and practices to address all aspects of officer safety, wellness, and performance. These issues continue to emerge and can have a direct effect on an officer’s ability to prevent or survive the rigorous challenges and threats that she or he may face in the line of duty.
In 2014, the Bend Police Department lost Sergeant John Lawrence to an undiagnosed medical condition after he returned home from completing his shift protecting the citizens of Bend. Shortly after his passing, the department pushed forward with research and development to further expand the existing basic wellness programs.
By partnering with the St. Charles Foundation, St. Charles Heart Center, St. Charles Sleep Center and the Helen Lorenz Fund, additional innovative programs focused on improving the overall wellness of all employees. The programs include full health and wellness screenings for officers, on-duty physical training to include yoga and guided mindfulness sessions.
Also, in conjunction with the fire department, a mental health professional was brought into both departments to help coordinate with employees. The mental health professional augments the Central Oregon Public Safety Chaplaincy program to care for first responders.
In March, the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association asked the Bend Police Department to make a presentation on the department’s police wellness programs at their annual training conference, which is held for police trainers from all over the world.
Additionally, the Bend Police Department has hosted three local resilience and mindfulness trainings for public safety employees, drawing participants to Bend from police departments, sheriff departments, district attorney offices and other public safety entities from across the United States and Canada.
The Bend Police Department believes that health and wellbeing of our officers’ and their families is the foundation to an officer’s performance, success at work and longevity in the police profession.
“We have encouraged spouses to attend joint trainings on stress reduction, financial planning and estate planning with our officers. The first year of data indicates there has been a 40% drop in workplace injury claims and a 68% reduction in costs due to officer injuries,” the statement said.