Last year, law enforcement in general got a lot of negative publicity because of the actions of just a few. The reality is that there will always be a few bad police officers and a few good ones that will, having just a split second, make a wrong call; which in some cases may cost him/her their life or the life of another. Some of the incidences are sometimes tragically unfortunate and others are out right criminal. However, what are also unfortunate are media reports that sensationalize more than analyze lending to, perhaps, the unintended consequence of casting all police officers as Thugs with a badge. Right behind those reports some politicians follow by casting police officers as Mindless Robots requiring the installation of a new body part (body camera). This shooting from the hip approach is a politician’s way of feeding the Beast (public) as a way to quiet outcry without having to make an honest effort to address a problem; a human problem.
Do you know any police officer who was drafted by force to take an oath to put his/her life on the line to serve and protect everyone, neither do I? Do you know any police officer that came from a “Police farm” or another planet, neither do I? I did not have to go there, did I? Still, I did it to be reminded of the obvious, that police officers are people too. They are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They have families for whom they have concerns of safety and security. They have dreams and aspirations of health and happiness for themselves and their loved ones. Does any of this sound familiar? Of course it does. Police officers only do a different job; putting their lives on the line for you is what they do every day. They come from and live in our neighborhoods and though it is not our job to protect them, it is theirs to protect yours. Nevertheless, police officers are not without need. They can always benefit from your support especially when it has to do with helping them become better and healthier human beings on duty and off duty at home with their families. The kind of help I’m advocating is beneficial to everyone.
The reports of recent killing of civilians by police officers is a human tragedy best treated with a human approach; not a technological one that may only add stress and distraction. This is where Mindfulness Meditation may be the best approach to addressing police/civilian relations. There are few jobs wherein one can lose or take the life of another in a split second and in many cases that’s the amount of time available in making a difference. We can all agree that there is no stress greater than having to make a life or death decision in a split second. It can make the difference whether he/she gets to walk through his/her front door at the end of a shift.
I am fed up of politicians who hide behind the skirt of “I’m not a scientist” as a way out of doing what they were elected to do. I never hear them say ‘I’m not a doctor” therefore I am not going to be led by some diagnosis requiring the use of prescription medications or even surgery”. I have never asked a doctor to show me his/her medical training credentials; have you? I’m sure they haven’t either.
In an article titled The Mindful Police Officer, my co-author, Gus Castellanos, MD contributed the following.
“Based on Neuro Science, Mindfulness is quickly becoming popular because of the benefits that are directly experienced by those who practice it regularly. Mindfulness programs such as UMASS’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses are taught in hundreds of medical centers worldwide because of its effectiveness in a wide array of physical and psychological disorders, in addition to stress reduction. Also, programs have been adapted to specific populations such as the US Military, Police Departments, Corrections departments, Government agencies and even sports teams (including the Seattle Seahawks, NY Knicks and Boston Red Sox) because of the effectiveness in a variety of skills and competencies including focused attention & reduced distractions, working memory, emotional regulation, empathy and compassion, critical thinking and problem solving, and more recently in overriding implicit racial and age related biases”.
I will continue to advocate, promote and educate those who would most benefit from Mindfulness Meditation as an effective approach. Recently, I started a campaign to promote Mindfulness Meditation here in Miami. I specifically targeted the Miami Dade Police Department and the Dade County Department of Corrections. I’ve sent preliminary information to the Directors of both Departments and also to the Dade County Police Benevolent Association. My hope is that Miami becomes the national leader in adapting Mindfulness Meditation as the human approach that it is.
Please help me spread the word. Thanx.
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