DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police shootings like the incident in Houston on Monday can add to the anxiety of officers everywhere.
About 150 Dallas Police officers are getting unique “mindfulness training” to keep their brains healthy while dealing with the stresses that come from working in law enforcement.
It was after the July 7, 2016 sniper attack in downtown Dallas that some donations were directed to special training for officers devoted to brain health.
The training helps officers manage their reactions to stress through scenarios.
Veteran officers say their jobs are more stressful than ever and they attribute it to social media.
Officers say arrests and shootings captured on video that reflect poorly on the profession have taken a toll mentally on how many approach their job.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata says mindfulness training is a good way to keep officers thinking clearly in a world that can now instantly judge them.
“I think it condemns officers,” said Mata. “There are bad cops out there, I’m the first to admit that, but there’s way more good ones. Social media makes it so easy to condemn an officer when the facts are barely known at the time those posts happen.”
Mata says officers seeking counseling and therapy through the Dallas Police Association’s Assist the Officer Foundation has tripled in the past three years.
Dallas Police sent CBS 11 a statement on the program:
“The Caruth Police Institute has partnered with the Center for Brain Health and its Brain Performance Institute since 2017 to deliver SMART training in all of our leadership series for sworn- and non-sworn personnel. The goal of this curriculum is to aid both sworn- and non-sworn law enforcement personnel in ‘tactical decision-making, creative real-time problem solving, and down-regulating emotional response to stress.’ This program focuses on teaching students how to strengthen the brain’s frontal networks, while also improving resiliency, in spite of high-stress situations. Students are taught cognitive tools such as taking ‘brain breaks’ or ‘thinking deep and wide’ to improve brain performance. Pre- and post-assessments are administered in the course to allow students the opportunity to receive personal feedback sessions with clinical experts in order to help find ways they can improve brain function.
At the conclusion of the course, students are encouraged to participate in additional Brain Performance Institute programming, such as ‘Mindfulness for Law Enforcement.’ We have had 125 students who have participated at a variety of host locations.
Additionally, CPI incorporates and reinforces the core tenets of SMART training throughout our leadership curriculum.”