MAYS LANDING- Training for Atlantic County law enforcement officers was held this week in accordance with the directive from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Promoting Law Enforcement Resiliency for law enforcement officers, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner announced.
The training sessions were instructed by active law enforcement officers of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, Atlantic City Police Department, Egg Harbor Township Police Department and Pleasantville Police Department. The resiliency training will continue to offer instruction to all of Atlantic County’s law enforcement officers.
“The work that is required of today’s police officer requires them to be more than a police officer. The work of today’s police officer requires them to be a social worker, an addiction counselor a psychologist and so much more. As a result of these new demands, we as their employers must take a more active approach to acknowledging the vicarious trauma that they may experience in performing their duties. We need them to be healthy so they can protect and serve us better,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said.
In August 2019, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General unveiled their Directive Promoting Law Enforcement Resiliency. The directive called attention to the men and women of law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizens of New Jersey. According to the Directive, “Resiliency” is defined as the ability to overcome adversity, and the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement (NJRP-LE) is designed to do just that. This Directive recognizes that protecting an officer’s mental health is just as important as guarding their physical safety, and strives to create a supportive culture for law enforcement officers, their families and friends, as well as the broader New Jersey community.
The Directive requires all law enforcement agencies to appoint at least one Resiliency Program Officer (RPO), who will be responsible for implementing the NJRP-LE in their agency pursuant to the structure and parameters outlined below. The RPO will not only train the officers in their agency on the NJRP-LE, but also will be available to all law enforcement officers to answer questions directly related to the training and provide contact information for any other support services and programs. The RPO is not meant to replace existing support programs and law enforcement
officers are encouraged to continue to use these and other programs whenever needed.
Following the issuance of the Directive, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office named Sgt. C.J. Durham as the ACPO Team Leader of the Resiliency Program Officers and Assistant Team Leader Sgt. Jason Kangas. Additional ACPO Resiliency Program Officers include: Detectives Christopher Popper, Nina Mitchell and Hannah Piatt.
Sheriff Scheffler is an FBI National Academy train the trainer in resiliency and program advocate. Following the issuance of the Directive, the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office named Officer Adam Erskine as Master Resiliency Trainer. Additionally, Officers Jacqueline Medina, Natalie Lomonaco, Katherine Naveja and Eric Francis were selected and trained as Resiliency Program Officers.
Atlantic County currently has over 40 RPOs who will soon begin training the 1200+ law enforcement officers in Atlantic County. Atlantic County’s 18 municipal police departments, the Atlantic Sheriff’s Department and the Atlantic County Justice Facility all currently have RPOs within their agency.
Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler said the New Jersey Resilience program provides the right tools for police officers to be able to understand and build positive coping skills in order to reset their stress levels after experiencing trauma, regardless if it is a critical or vicarious incident.
“My hope is that every officer will be able to adapt these tools to help manage any stress and trauma that they experience from performing their duties as a police officer. When we help to support the mental, physical and social well being, we create officers who can make better decisions under stress, which has a direct correlation to healthier and safer communities,” Sheriff Scheffler said.
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477(TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.