Law Enforcement New Year’s Resolutions—Again

Jan. 1, 2024
Instead of focusing purely on singular indicators of physical or mental health, police and law enforcement officers should resolve to take a more holistic approach in the new year.

Each year, about this time, we put out a New Year’s resolutions article or blog (depending on flavor and focus). Quite often, the resolutions suggested for consideration are as much about agency leadership and culture as they are the individual officer and performance. This piece is going to focus almost solely on the individual officer, with some touches on hiring practices and desirable traits in our new recruits.

Before we get into what the individual officers may want to focus on in their resolutions for the new year, let’s recognize something that many law enforcement leaders are plagued by: Not everyone is suited for law enforcement work. In the current circumstance, agencies are getting near-desperate for applicants and new recruits. They’ll take anyone who can get through the background vetting process. But should they be? As we’ll say several times below, law enforcement professionals have to be warriors first and foremost. It may not be the part of their personality or performance that shows most of the time, but they have to be capable of entering, surviving and emerging victorious from every fight every time. Why? Because anything else can mean not only their own death, but the deaths of innocents they were sworn to protect.

That same message was reiterated when our editorial director wrote about it, comparing today’s law enforcement officers to warriors that work in a garden. He seemed to feel that’s far better than being a gardener in a way – which is why he titled the piece, “Gardeners on Patrol.”

Assuming your agency hires correctly and that you are indeed suited for law enforcement work (that’s been proven 99.9% of the time, or you wouldn’t be reading this), does the agency then support and provide for the warrior side of the job? In a previous piece (Remember and Prioritize the Warrior) our Editorial Director commented on an agency that perhaps focused a bit too much on the technology side of LE while almost dismissing the potential need for officers to be able to fight. In fact, the agency’s entire approach was as if they were hiding the fact that officers arrested people – or at least, so it seemed.

In the academy, it’s often repeated that your mind and your body are your two most important and most valuable “weapons.” As such, if you accept that, it should be obvious that you have to maintain the proper outlook, proper fitness levels and proper stress management practices to stay at peak performance.

From that perspective, our recommendations for New Year’s resolutions are all about self-improvement, healthy maintenance, and taking care of your own personal tools that you might need, without any notice, to go home alive at the end of your shift. Your mind and body were listed above. It’s far easier to maintain the body than it is the mind, but both take focused effort. Instead of making a resolution to lose X number of pounds or get your waist back to XX inches, why not simply resolve to try to improve your overall physical health and fitness?

It's an unfortunate reality that people all too often focus on specific segments of physical fitness, completely ignoring other segments, only to end up dying because of what they neglected. Weight is only one measure. Resting heart rate is only one measure. How much you can bench press or squat… only one measure.

When it comes to law enforcement and maintaining a fitness level commensurate to what you might need your body to do, you have to take a more holistic approach to health and fitness, so our New Year’s Resolution recommendation has that focus. Make the resolution to monitor health and fitness indicators to include:

  • Resting heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood oxygen levels (you can do this now with several models of recent generation smart watch)
  • Weight
  • Sugar levels (may seem unnecessary for people who don’t have a family or personal history of diabetes, but the “work” diet can do a lot of harm)
  • Endurance (that 30-second fight for your life can feel like a 10-mile run. Can you run 10 miles?)
  • Strength (functional not Olympic levels. Have to balance this with…)
  • Flexibility (if you can’t touch your toes with your knees straight and not groaning, you need to stretch more)
  • Sleep (that’s one that we regularly ignore and often hinder for the extra $$ available)

Yes, that might seem a lot to keep track of, but if you can, once a week, make a few notes about these fitness indicators, you can easily see trends over one to three months. The trends tell you what changes you need to make. Make those changes or accept the fact that you’re increasing your risk of injury on the street.

Interestingly, fitness, exercise and sleep are all tied to stress management, stress load and potential stress injuries. The job gives us enough stress. One statistic states that the average person will experience two critical/traumatic events in their life, while a law enforcement professional will experience 800+ in a 20-year career. That amount of exposure can easily cause stress injuries if we don’t manage and maintain ourselves correctly, both mentally and emotionally.

Make sure you have a support system, that you know who they (family, friends, mentors, clergy) are and what services are available and make sure you take advantage of every bit of stress management support you have available. It would be beyond disappointing to have a perfectly healthy body with a dysfunctional mind or soul. Too many of us work those secondary and part-time jobs for the extra dollars, and yes, we all need the extra dollars, but Downtime is Required to Maintain Performance.

Finally, recognize that while your mental and physical health are paramount, all of your preparedness and tools need to be maintained as well. Every piece of your uniform to include your body armor, duty belt, weapons (obviously), etc. needs to be inspected and replaced or repaired as necessary. Be resolute in your attention and efforts toward the goal of keeping all of your gear in 100% condition. In a profession where the single failure of a single piece of kit can get you killed, it behooves you to make sure nothing will fail – to the best of your ability.

So, this year, make your resolutions about maintaining yourself in peak health, peak performance level, peak mental and emotional health and that all of your gear is in as good of shape as you are.

Happy New Year!

Sponsored Recommendations

Build Your Real-Time Crime Center

March 19, 2024
A checklist for success

Whitepaper: A New Paradigm in Digital Investigations

July 28, 2023
Modernize your agency’s approach to get ahead of the digital evidence challenge

A New Paradigm in Digital Investigations

June 6, 2023
Modernize your agency’s approach to get ahead of the digital evidence challenge.

Listen to Real-Time Emergency 911 Calls in the Field

Feb. 8, 2023
Discover advanced technology that allows officers in the field to listen to emergency calls from their vehicles in real time and immediately identify the precise location of the...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Officer, create an account today!