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Guest Post: Reinventing police wellness – Livermore's data-driven approach to officer retention and safety

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By John Reynolds
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Serving as a police officer is hard.  

Around the country, law enforcement personnel must regularly manage highly stressful, sometimes life-or-death situations as part of their job. From 2019 to 2022, the number of violent crimes in California increased nearly 11%; violent crimes that involved a firearm over the same time period increased by over 20%. Other research indicates that police officers experience PTSD at nearly double rate of the general population because of the demands of the job. This is happening amidst calls by some to defund the police and reducing the sentencing of offenders, which exacerbates stress for police officers across the country.  

As a result, police departments face ongoing recruitment and retention challenges, which can sometimes translate to current officers being overworked, further increasing stress and perpetuating the cycle.  

When our officers are at their best, we, as an entire department, can provide the highest quality service to our community. That’s why we continue to make officer wellness a priority – not as a program, but as a foundational aspect of our department’s culture. We’re investing in technology to help us better understand how our officers are doing, help them manage challenges, and be at their best. That may sound simple. The reality is anything but.  

The Livermore Police Department has been working with Peregrine, an advanced data analytics platform, since January of 2022. Their platform ensures our analysts can provide necessary information to our officers in the field quickly and accurately, bolsters each step of the investigative process, and is a crucial element of our real-time awareness center (RTAC).  

Now, we’re using Peregrine to explore data-driven approaches to enhance officer wellness. The platform can be configured to analyze shift patterns, consider exposure to traumatic incidents, and assess workload within the specific context of our agency. Before Peregrine, the only access to officer wellness data we had was a simple spreadsheet with data exported from our RMS – quantifying activities over a given period of time.  

We found that data lacked the nuance and context we, as department leaders, needed to make informed decisions. After all, not all traffic stops, calls for service, or investigations are made equal. An incident involving a child victim can be far more stress-inducing for responding officers than an incident involving light property damage.  

We worked with the deployment strategists at Peregrine to build an officer wellness reporting and alerting dashboard to leverage the concrete, raw data we already had to unlock the context we needed. Because Peregrine’s dashboards are always updated in real-time, we can now understand, in the moment, when and why an officer might be experiencing challenges. Then, it’s on us as a leadership team to ensure we proactively engage to help them.  

Early feedback from my team has been exceedingly positive. Sergeant Matos mentioned that, using Peregrine, she can better understand how to motivate her patrol officers. She can help them work a different districts or shift and find things they’re passionate about. Sergeant Kevin Reynolds told me Peregrine’s dashboarding and reporting capabilities will help supervisors like him create sustainable workloads for their officers. The more supervisors can limit extreme variations in workload, he explained, the more effectively they can limit burnout or extreme stress – which will in turn lead to better partnership with our community.  

Sergeant Bloom said the data can help her keep her officers safe when they’re in the field. An overworked officer might unknowingly put themselves at risk. On the other hand, an officer with a reasonable workload can be well-prepared for each call, familiarizing themselves with officer safety notes and the circumstances of the call.  

A well-prepared officer is a safer one, and officer safety – along with the safety of the Livermore community – is our top priority.  

I know that kind of leadership and engagement with our patrol officers will help us continue to build a positive culture of service and empathy, ultimately contributing meaningfully to officer retention. 

Beyond real-time dashboards, our team is leveraging Peregrine’s alerting tools to deliver information to us when and how we need it. Lieutenant Goard set up an alert to understand when an officer has responded to a certain number of high priority incidents, like those involving child abuse or sexual assault. He can then have an open dialogue with that officer about how they’re doing and help them manage stress. The alerts can be configured with whatever parameters and timeframe the supervisors need to best support their teams.  

We’re continuing to work with the Peregrine team to refine the dashboards and alerts. As we continue to invest in the wellness of our team, I’m confident that we’ll improve recruitment and retention efforts and continue to build positive morale across the department.  

As leaders, we have a responsibility – and an opportunity – to use data to support every member of law enforcement in the quest to better serve and protect our communities.  

About Captain John Reynolds

John Reynolds is currently a Captain at the Livermore Police Department. Reynold joined the Livermore Police Department in 2000, after graduating from the Alameda County Sheriff Department’s Regional Training Center.

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