Sheriff’s office trains deputies in new wellness app

Photo provided Bartholomew County Sheriff deputies gather for training Monday at the jail for a new app which supports their overall health and well-being.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office held a launch event on Monday to familiarize deputies with a multi-faceted, evidence-based platform that BCSO officials hope will support their overall health and well-being.

It’s called MAGNUSWorx and can accessed through an app on the phone or the computer, where officers can find a range of resources geared specifically for law enforcement.

MAGNUSWorx is branded as “a communication hub and wellness coach in every officer’s pocket,” and they can use it to log how they’re feeling, provide anonymous feedback and have access to a library of content that relates to what MAGNUSWorx calls the 11 rings of wellness.

These rings include, but are not limited to: relationship growth, family dynamics, emotional development, physical health optimization and mental toughness.

BSCO is among the first group of law enforcement agencies in the state to use the platform — out of the 92 county sheriff’s departments fewer than 10 are using it as of now.

The Indiana Sheriff’s Association applied for and was given a $500,000 grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to pay for the platform, giving access to it to interested departments.

“There’s nothing that says that they have to do it, but it’s a tool for them. Part of my job and my administration’s job is to provide these tools,” Sheriff Chris Lane said. ” … I think they hit a home run by offering this up to all the sheriffs across the state.”

It’s a priority of his administration to do what they can to support officers given the inherent stress of the job, Lane said.

“The average person sees maybe a handful of what you would say a critical event, maybe a few times in their life, where we are seeing hundreds of these over a career,” Lane said. “… I think the average life expectancy of somebody in law enforcement is like 58 — we’ve got to change that. I’m passionate about this, I’ve been in law enforcement for over 30 years and one of the things when I came on as sheriff is I wanted to make things better for these officers.”

“More police officers die by their own gun than they do anything out on the street, so it’s important that we put things in place so that we can hopefully try to reverse those numbers,” Lane said.

Death by suicide for law enforcement officers is three to fives times more likely than the general public, statistics show, and officers are more at risk than any other profession of suffering a cardiac event.

The average lifespan of law enforcement, corrections and public safety officers is just five years after retirement, a MAGNUSWorx representative said in a presentation to BCSO.

Each ring has a subject matter expert that will curate resources in their particular area for officers to learn from. Say an officer is interested in learning more about finances — MAGNUSWorx’s Jeff Kingsfield will pick and choose different items applicable to bolster their growth in that area. Three of the subject matter experts are former law enforcement officers.

Once a week officers will be asked five questions that takes their “pulse,” gauging how the officers and the organization as a whole is doing.

By providing their pulse, it ensures officers have more of an internal awareness of how they’re doing and that anonymous data will help paint a picture that can used internally to make changes if necessary. Once a quarter, those on BCSO’s wellness team will receive a report that doesn’t provide information about any individual officers, but does give a general sense of things.

While mental health is an emphasis on the platform, it’s rooted in a more holistic approach. The idea is that all of the 11 rings of wellness are important for solidifying wellness and performance.

Once a week, deputies will also receive a short piece of wellness content to encourage working on a new muscle group for example — MAGNUSWorx representatives said that as little as 10 minutes on the app per week can make a tangible difference.

A deputy on BCSO’s wellness team likened officers’ mindsets in some ways to that of a professional athlete. If a coach asks an injured athlete if they’re okay to play, their instinct is to say yes. The same can be the case for those in law enforcement feeling a duty to go to work if at all possible.

With use of the app and based on a particular officer’s pulse, it may be conveyed that it’s time for them to cut back on their volume of calls and focus more time on themselves.

Tiffany Andras, subject matter expert for “resilience fitness,” gave an overview of the process.

“We’re going to look at those 11 rings of wellness, as well as some organizational constructs, to understand where leadership inside your organization can better support you and where we can offer you tools and skills to better support yourselves, your families and the communities that you serve,” Andras said. “The big picture here is that we hope that no more than 10 minutes of your time, every single week, could be the difference between five years after retirement and 25 years after retirement.”