Peer Support Conference

SPD Peer Support hosts an annual one-day training seminar open to employees and adult family members. This is a day just for police officers and family, away from the demands of their jobs. The seminar is a day for employees to recharge, get information on self-care, learn strategies for coping with stress, and to feel supported in the difficult work they face each day. Employees in the days following the seminar personally talk to peer support coordinators about it being such a great event, how they enjoyed the speakers and connecting or reconnecting with co-workers and other SPD employees.  They state they feel valued, inspired and motivated to continue doing the work they are doing and serving the communities of Seattle.

Previous seminars have focused on themes such as women in Seattle’s law enforcement history, career development, and juggling personal and professional responsibilities.  Well-known speakers have included Dr. Kevin Gilmartin (the author of Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement), Cynthia Tobias (celebrated learning style author and speaker), and Bobby Smith (former Louisiana State Trooper). The Seattle Police Foundation provides between $5,000 and $7,500 annually for SPD to put on this popular seminar.

The 2015 seminar topic was #LeadingStrong. This year’s keynote speaker was Chief Kathleen O’Toole, and included additional speakers from within SPD and the Seattle community.  For the past several years, Boeing has donated the space, and additional community partners have provided snacks and beverages. Funds from the Foundation pay for a catered lunch for attendees, audio/visual rental fees, speaker thank you gifts, and for attendee giveaways.  Approximately 211 SPD employees and family members attended in 2015.

Your support of the Seattle Police Foundation provides clear, measureable results for making Seattle safer: In the course of an average day a police officer may have to deal with violent offenders, sexual predators, toxic chemicals, auto accidents, drunks, tragedy, trauma, and death. The symptoms of excessive and un-managed stress in law enforcement include police officer suicide, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, heart attacks, cancer, disability and PTSD.  These are the hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement, and can be the result of chronic and cumulative un-managed stress.

The annual peer support seminar focused on overall wellness and physical, emotional, and mental health. The 2015 seminar focused on leadership and each employee must strive to be a personal leader, regardless of rank or assignment. All of the speakers, videos, and messages at the seminar were aimed at encouraging officers to take responsibility for their overall wellness. At the seminar, officers learn that by taking care of their mental health, they increase their longevity at SPD, ensuring their ability to continue to protect their community.