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Erika Moeller1, Richard Cleveland1, Bridget Melton1, Barry Joyner1, Joseph Dulla2. 1Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA. 2Bond University, Gold Coast.

BACKGROUND: Law enforcement officers (LEOs) need both physical and mental resilience to perform occupational duties. Despite this expectation, LEOs have some of the poorest health measures including high rates of obesity and musculoskeletal injuries, and poor mental health. Although mental health and resilience have received recent focus in law enforcement literature, additional research is required in exploring how to build the mental resilience needed to reduce cumulative mental health strain over LEOs’ careers. Police academies build foundational skills in LEOs, but generally emphasize physical training over other domains. The present study seeks to evaluate the perceived effectiveness of mental health resilience training infused within a statewide physical training program revision for LEO cadets. METHODS: A cross sectional design was utilized with a convenience sample of 128 graduating LEO cadets. An online survey was administered investigating the reported amount of resilience training performed during academy and whether cadets intended to utilize resilience skills after academy graduation. RESULTS: As part of formal training in the academy, 64.8% of cadets reported practicing resilience exercises (i.e., mindfulness intervention) 4 or 5 out of 5 days of training per week. Outside of formal training, the majority (57.8%) of cadets reported only 0 to 2 days of resilience training out of 7 days per week exercised of their own accord. An ANOVA analysis revealed no statistically significant differences between the exposure of resiliency training during the academy to their intentions to practice after academy completion (p=.642). However, secondary ANOVA analyses revealed cadets who practiced resilience skills outside formal training were significantly more likely to continue after the academy (p=.008). Evaluating the Mindfulness-Based Tactical Instruction (MBTI) intervention, cadets rated each aspect of the program, on a Likert scale of 1-5, as follows: Combat Breathing (3.63±1.14), Progressive Muscle Relaxation (3.47±1.24) and Body Scan (3.22 ±1.30). CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to mindfulness or resilience skills during the academy may be helpful, but additional research is required to evaluate techniques that further encourage continued practice after academy completion. Additional off-duty techniques may be an opportunity to increase one’s self efficacy to continue these preventative mental health practices across the LEO’s career.

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