Report Recommendation 6.2
Pillar 6: Officer Wellness and Safety
|6.2 Report Recommendation: Law enforcement agencies should promote safety and wellness at every level of the organization.|
The BRPD is committed to the overall health of its police officers and civilian employees.
The Department recognizes the need for the physical wellness of its members and the need for officers to maintain a degree of physical fitness consistent with the requirements of the role of a police officer for the City of Baton Rouge. The personal benefits to the officer for maintaining his/her physical wellness far outweigh any other considerations. While some aspects of the police service are routinely more sedentary than others, the basic physical requirements for the police officer in keeping with his/her oath of office remain the same and may be required of any sworn officer of the Department at any time.
In 1994, the BRPD engaged the services of Standard & Associates to establish a physical ability test consistent with the job requirements of an entry-level police officer. This test was developed through survey & study procedures and the results were published in 1994. The physical assessment developed is comprised of events related directly to the work of police officers in the City of Baton Rouge. This test is now given to all entry-level police officers for the City of Baton Rouge.
- Phase 2 of the test consists of the ability to receive information (a description) about a "suspect", and perform a foot chase through a simulated Baton Rouge neighborhood including climbing over a wooden fence, crawling under a house, climbing over a chain-link fence, climbing through a window, and then running to the end of the course where the officer "identifies" the "suspect". The test then concludes with the candidate moving a 150-pound mannequin across a given distance, simulating moving an injured person or struggling with a suspect. The cutoff time for completing the course is set at 73 seconds. This test is, at a minimum, the goal for physical fitness for sworn members of the department.
The BRPD expects its sworn members who have completed basic and field training to continue to preserve their physical conditioning and well-being throughout their career in the police service of the City of Baton Rouge.
Physical examinations, provided by the Department, are conducted on all newly appointed members of the Department after they are hired.
Confirmed members of the Department may be required to participate in a physical wellness program. Part of the physical wellness program may include periodic physical examinations.
- The physical examination will consist of various testing depending on the members' sex, age, and results of tests.
- Any physical examination required in connection with a Departmental physical wellness program will be provided at no cost to the member.
- To help members of the BRPD preserve the standard of physical fitness, the Department has two certified physical fitness specialists on staff assigned to Training Services.
BRPD maintains an indoor physical training area for members to use in their physical conditioning program.
Officers will be permitted during their shift, to perform physical conditioning in accordance with Departmental recommendations for physical fitness when manpower allows. This will be at the discretion of the officer’s immediate supervisor.
The BRPD recognizes that the stresses of police work can take its toll on its members. Therefore, the Department has contracted the services of professional mental health care specialists for its members. If a member wishes to make use of these services, the member may contact the Health & Safety Section of the Department or contact a member of the "PEERS" group.
BRPD’s Manpower Assessment process Manpower-Assessment is designed to establish policies and procedures for the effective allocation and distribution of departmental personnel. Allocation of personnel are based on workload assessments that are consistent with the Department's mission, goals, objectives, and fiscal resources, and primarily to provide equitable, effective, and efficient deployment of departmental human resources.
Law enforcement officers, other emergency service personnel, and bystander civilians injured by penetrating objects may suffer from uncontrolled hemorrhage. With the goal of maximizing survival, Self Aid–Buddy Aid (SABA), https://www.brla.gov/DocumentCenter/View/10776/General-Order-146-Trauma-Kits, provides optimal care that could be utilized in these situations. Within the scope of their training and policy, officers are instructed to utilize SABA in the on-duty and off-duty responses as they deem necessary. The three goals of SABA are to save preventable deaths, prevent additional casualties, and complete the mission.
BRPD is using technology
The BRPD recognizes that Officer wellness is improved by fair and transparent treatment of all individuals who serve the Baton Rouge Police Department and the City of Baton Rouge. The Department maintains a consistent Discipline system, as set forth in the policy, General-Order-112-Discipline, as well as a consistent Performance Appraisal System, also outlined in policy General Order 117. These policies are designed to reward officers for their hard work, personal sacrifice, compassion, and competency; provide training when appropriate, and hold officers accountable when necessary.
The BRPD requires professional conduct from all employees, However, beyond what is expected, BRPD personnel sometimes go above and beyond to exceed the highest standards. The Department actively seeks to recognize individual and collective acts above and beyond an officer's or unit’s assigned duties through its Meritorious Awards Program. This program, outlined in the policy, General-Order-113-Awards-and-Merit, is designed not only to recognize heroic acts but to reward those officers whose performance is outstanding and those who develop innovative and ingenious methods of furthering the goals and objectives of the Department.
The BRPD recognizes the need to provide our officers and our community with policies that allow officers to make the right decisions in difficult circumstances and to set high standards that reflect our shared values. Since law enforcement officers regularly confront unpredictable and unusual circumstances, it is impossible to outline policies and procedures for every circumstance that could occur. With that in mind, BRPD is continually seeking to improve policies to guide officers in exercising their discretion, as well as procedures and training that give them a solid foundation when making in-the-moment decisions.
BRPD’s sick leave policy (General Order 104) is designed to ensure all BRPD personnel have the capability to take necessary leave time during a personal illness or during the illness of a family member.
- On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a Black man, was fatally shot in front of a local convenience store following a confrontation with two white police officers. The event was recorded by cellphone and garnered direct and immediate public attention.
- In the following days, protestors surrounded the neighborhood store and marched through the area, blocking local streets and highways. Activists from outside Baton Rouge arrived to protest, increasing tension between law enforcement and demonstrators. Then, on July 17, 2016, a lone gunman ambushed and shot six BRPD officers, killing three.
- Twenty-six days later, while Baton Rouge was still reeling from the tragedies, East Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes faced an unprecedented weather event. Over the course of three days, more than 20 inches of rainfall flooded areas of the city. Homes, schools, and businesses were inundated by flood waters, causing residents to either evacuate or be rescued by first responders and good Samaritans. Parts of Interstate-10, Interstate-12, and other major roadways were impassable, shutting down significant portions of Baton Rouge. East Baton Rouge Parish and 20 surrounding parishes were declared federal disaster areas, enabling eligibility for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance. Over the course of three days, more than 75, 000 housing units flooded.
- Recognizing the trauma that the citizens of Baton Rouge were undergoing, the Baton Rouge Collective Healing Initiative was conducted from October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2020. The Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) served as the lead and fiscal agent for the project. BRPD hired a program manager to coordinate the partnership and complete grant activities. The original core members of the Baton Rouge Collective Healing Initiative included community partners who were vested in improving community/police relationships.
- Among the primary goals of the Collective, Healing Grant was promoting and improving officer health and wellness. Healthy officers produce safe and thriving communities, and this is important to their personal safety and the safety of the communities being served. Officers work in highly stressful situations that affect their physical, mental, and occupational health.
- The Baton Rouge Collective Healing administered two surveys developed by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to BRPD personnel. The first survey was the Officer and Agency Wellness and Resiliency Perceptions Survey, and the second survey was Victims Services Survey for Officers. LSU-SREC worked with police leadership on a plan to administer the surveys. LSU-SREC compiled resultant data and presented a report to BRPD and IACP/DOJ.
- Through these surveys and studies, the Baton Rouge Collective Healing Initiative recognized the need to address the daily stressors experienced by BRPD officers. While BRPD had a Peer Support Team in place, Collective Healing Initiative assisted the Peer Support Team by providing support for consultation and training. BRPD consulted with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) to enhance the Peer Support Team’s standard operating procedures. SAPD was designated as a promising program for Officer Safety and Wellness by IACP (IACP, 2018). SAPD provided a five-day in-person training to the BRPD Peer Support Team. BRPD Peer Support Team leadership also attended IACP Officer Wellness Symposiums in San Antonio, Texas, and Miami, Florida.
- Collective Healing Grant
- Transcript: Protecting Public Safety with Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul
- FIVE YEARS LATER: Law enforcement leaders reflect on 2016 ambush on police