Spiritual Wellness in Law Enforcement: A Critical Link to Officer Wellness

by Bobby Kipper, Executive Director of NCPCV

During my 30 years of law enforcement experience, I marveled at the various trends of training and policy that would be introduced to policing almost daily. Decades later, I am now witnessing a trend in additional opportunities for training and services in the area of officer wellness. This will include introducing mental and emotional wellness services that will be easily accessible to the law enforcement community.

First, I want to totally support this move to advance the various aspects of total wellness. One link that appears to be overlooked in the process is “Spiritual Wellness.”

In my current role as the director of the National Center for Prevention of Community Violence (NCPCV),  I am constantly asked during interviews “how did you serve in policing for 30 years without becoming jaded?” The answer is my faith and spiritual hope, which helped me in my daily struggle of witnessing the absolute worst behavior of many that I met. This element is essential, due to the fact that law enforcement is called to deal with “hurting people.”

Individuals who are emotionally at peace in their lives do not make up the vast majority of police related contacts. Officers are called upon to deal with hurting and distressed individuals who are already in self-conflict. This can bring about a central question over a period of time of what an officer can do to overcome this spiral of constant hopelessness that they witness.

Establishing a pathway to spiritual wellness, I believe, is a critical link in this process. We back away from discussing this issue for fear of endorsing a specific religion or belief system. Spirituality is a sense of belief that there is something greater than one’s self.  This practice provides an individual with a sense of peace and purpose, which helps him or her to overcome a sense of helplessness that many officers experience as they witness tragedy.

During my career, I experienced this feeling on a number of occasions. This void led me to write my own spiritual thoughts from a Christian perspective. The book, “Roll Call: Spiritual Wellness for Today’s Law Enforcement Officer,” is set to be published by Morgan James Publishing, New York in early 2021.

My hope is that, while the book is written  from a Christian perspective, it will serve to ignite a greater conversation of the importance of spiritual wellness in law enforcement, especially during this time that finds many officers and their families searching for answers that could lead to greater hope and purpose.

Spiritual wellness in law enforcement is a critical component to overall officer wellness and we hope to assist in this process, moving forward.