This week, The Oregonian presents a four-day series, “Mindfulness and Policing,” which takes an in-depth look at the mindfulness techniques being practiced by the Hillsboro Police Department in Oregon.
In Mindful‘s October issue, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Maureen O’Hagan reported on how the program came into being, first through Richard Goerling, a lieutenant with the department. “We are so impacted by the toxicity of our profession, so consumed by our jobs, we don’t know what to do,” Goerling told O’Hagan. Goerling took up mindfulness himself a few years ago and after finding the practice helped him deal with stress and be more focused on the job, he was determined to bring the benefits to his fellow officers.
Research explaining how mindfulness had assisted soldiers in the American military encouraged Goerling to pitch the idea to Hillsboro’s chief of police. O’Hagan’s story shares Goerling’s discovery:
Marine reservists were trained before deployment in mindfulness practice, and a series of later tests showed that those who spent more time engaging in mindfulness saw improvements in their cognitive performance and felt less stressed than their colleagues. This wasn’t the touch-feely-hippie stuff cops loathed. These were warriors. “The anecdotal and scientific evidence was just remarkable,” Goerling says. “You just couldn’t ignore it.”
Goerling hopes the holistic approach will help officers deal with the stress inherent in their jobs and connect more meaningfully with the people in the communities they serve.
Fellow Hillsboro officer Sgr. Rohn Richards has felt the benefits of the practice. In The Oregonian’s article, he says mindfulness training “has helped him let go. It has helped him unwind a little.”
Part of O’Hagan’s story, To Pause and Protect, is available in this digital sampler of Mindful‘s October issue. To hear more about Goerling’s own mindfulness practice and how it has helped him as a lieutenant, click here.