Law enforcement recruit training is not only physical.
The Tucson Police Department is also working to help recruits at the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Center be able to mentally handle the stress of the job and the stress of everyday life.
Behind the Badge, the series:
TPD recruits now see Struggle Well on their classroom walls. Its the name of a class and a mentality within the department.
We all have to understand that everybody struggles, said TPD Captain Dominic Flores. Everybody in their life has had trauma, difficulties and struggle.
I think the mentality used to be you suck it up and you keep going That culture at the police department, is, it has completely changed.
Flores first learned about Struggle Well in 2018. It comes from the Boulder Crest Foundation, which promotes post-traumatic growth for veterans and first responders
Flores then took the Struggle Well class to TPD, which has been offering a 40-hour class for personnel once a month since May 2022.
Its also been incorporated into recruit training, with 18 class hours and more than 20 additional Struggle Well-related hours.
Whats supposed to be this intense, 24-week police academy, Flores explained. We are stopping things and were slowing things down to say, Hey, you gotta take care of yourself. You gotta protect your mind, you gotta protect your spirit, physically, you gotta protect your finances
We really are about this. We really are a Department that struggles well.
The class promotes active listening and talking openly about stress and struggle that happens at work or at home.
You hear it a lot here from the instructors: Your mind gives up way before your body will, TPD recruit Nich Flynn told KGUN. Some things that you might consider little, or like not important to other people, some people would actually consider very important.
You need to be able to talk to people and express your feelings, TPD recruit Arlene Olguin said. [The academy is] a lot of work, it is a lot of stress sometimes.
The class also teaches ways to reset, like a 4-7-8 breathing technique: Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of seven and exhale for a count of eight.
That [technique] has helped me avoid so many silly arguments, at home and at work, Flores said.
Struggle Well also encourages thoughtfulness by asking people to choose something to be grateful for every day.
The goal is to make those in the class more thoughtful and empathetic, in and out of uniform.
You can face something that is extremely difficult and you can actually grow from that, Flores said. Have more wisdom and have actually a better, more meaningful life because of the struggle.
Flores says hes done that by incorporating Struggle Well into his life, becoming more patient and even improving his relationship with his son.
He says he and all who take the class are better equipped for the next struggle.
You dont want to cope through the bad times, he said. You wanna figure out a way to navigate those in a way that makes you better.