Waco: Texas police chiefs conference focuses on mental health and wellness
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - If you’ve noticed a few extra police officers in the area this week, you’re right.
Hosted by the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), the Texas Police Chief Leadership Series is being held in downtown Waco this week.
“It’s a great location,” said Donna Garcia, Director of Executive Development at LEMIT.
Since Monday, police chiefs from all over the state have been taking mandatory, bi-annual training at the Hilton hotel.
After adjustments were made for COVID-19, about 75 of the 95 chiefs who signed up for the training showed up, according to officials.
“All participants have to wear mask, we have to pick hotels with enough space, food and catering changed, speakers have to stand back and wear PPE, we’re taking temperatures daily and they have to fill out health questionnaires,” said Garcia.
In Texas, it’s mandated for every police chief to take 40-hours of this training every two years: while LEMIT offers the week-long training at their headquarters in Huntsville at Sam Houston State University, they also offer it in various cities across the state.
“All of the topics every two years change, so they’re on-trend, it’s what the research is showing, it’s what people are talking about, it’s what’s important to the citizens and to the police chiefs and their agencies,” said Garcia.
With training focused on emerging trends, this year it’s mental health and wellness for officers, chiefs and the public they serve.
“Everyone is talking about and concerned about our officers’ safety, their mental health, their wellness, and then how that relates to our community, but our week really is about all of that addressed for the chief ," said Garcia. "The chief needs to take care of him or herself before he or she can take care of their agency and then take care of their citizens.”
Garcia says Texas is leading the nation in this type of leadership training.
“It’s about leadership, it’s about inspiring and showing leadership and improvement to their agencies, ethics, etc.,," said Garcia. "Texas leads the way, there’s not any other states that do what we do, so we’re very proud of the institute, we’re super proud of our police chiefs and what they do every day.”
The conference ends Friday.
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