Gilbert Police Department Focuses on Wellness to Help Staff
Gilbert, Ariz.- The Gilbert Police Department is taking an innovative approach to ensure officers and support staff are mentally ready for their shift. A new meditation room, therapy dog, and heart rate variability tools are all part of the peer support program that’s taking wellness in public safety to the next level.
Ed Morales has been with the Gilbert Police Department for 16 years. During the past several months, he’s been teaching meditation techniques, making the rounds with the department’s therapy dog, Cora, or working one-on-one with individuals. His latest job description as peer support and wellness coordinator is a far cry from most of his career experience.
Morales spent seven years in the Marine Corps doing clandestine operations. He then joined Gilbert as an officer and the SWAT team. During that time, Morales was working under intense pressure and with little sleep. The stress of a career in the military and police force was catching up to him.
“Eventually I felt my body starting to break down,” he said.
Morales turned to yoga and meditation to get back on track. He went back to school to get a degree in social work and he took his knowledge and experience back to the police department.
“My goal was to try to find a way to take the principles of what I learned and be able to share them with other people in order to manage those same things I dealt with,” he said.
That’s when his new position was created and he took charge of trying to solve some of law enforcement’s biggest challenges with unique solutions.
“I couldn’t expect to reproduce the same program that someone else did and expect different results,” he said.
The latest program will teach officers and staff members resilience with the help of technology that measures heart rate variability. Based on breathing and visualization, it will show, in real-time, that an individual can control their own coherence. This will give employees the skills they need to handle stress and anxiety.
Morales hopes these kinds of programs will become more commonplace within the industry.
To learn more about the Gilbert Police Department, click here.