Miami Beach Police Department
Award Year: 2021
Safety Category: Officer Wellness
Additional Award Year: N/A
The City of Miami Beach is a coastal resort location in Miami-Dade County, Florida. It was first developed in the early 1900’s due to the development efforts of Carl G. Fisher, the Lummus Brothers, and John S. Collins, the latter of whose construction of the Collins Bridge provided the first vital land link between mainland Miami and the beaches. Land wise, Miami Beach is only 7.7 square miles with an estimated 92,000 full-time residents. However, Miami Beach is a tourist destination that has over 7.5 million visitors each year. The City of Miami Beach is known throughout the world for its beautiful beaches, hotels and the historic Art Deco District called “South Beach.”
The concept of Officer Wellness has become an area of focus in police departments throughout the nation. Why has this become a priority? The rate of officer suicide and the number of officers dying from heart disease have required police departments to re-examine what support and resources, if any, are they providing for their personnel. It has been clear we have not been doing enough. Healthy officers not only live more productive lives among their family and friends, but these officers also respond more effectively within the communities they serve and protect.
MBPD formally established their wellness program in 2019. Our department had implemented a few programs prior to 2019, such as the Peer Support Team, annual fitness testing and an on-duty workout program. However, these were independent programs which did not provide enough emphasis on overall wellness. It was important to create a program that was about developing a holistic understanding of wellness, including physical and emotional components of health and well-being. Below gives a summary of how the Miami Beach Police Department created the Wellness Program called S.T.E.P.P., and how the program generated a holistic understanding of wellness.
MIAMI BEACH WELLNESS PROGRAM – S.T.E.P.P.
The formal Wellness program, S.T.E.P.P., was introduced to the department January of 2019. The program is based on the concept that true wellness is not just based on physical health but must include our emotional well-being. Therefore, overall wellness should encompass all facets of our lives, including support systems, personal relationships, emotional well-being, communication, work and financial stability. Previously, police departments have only focused on work related issues, such as tactical skills and safety. However, it is clear police departments must also train and educate concerning other stressors officers face, such as traumatic experiences, family issues, communication difficulties, alcohol use, financial problems, and difficulties in their personal and professional lives. The goal of creating S.T.E.P.P. was to create a culture of awareness and understanding so officers can find support and resources that will lead them to productive and successful lives. The acronym S.T.E.P.P. is based on a holistic approach to wellness. All the pillars of wellness are equally important in helping to balance our health and emotional well-being so that we can effectively handle stressors in our daily lives. Below is a summary of the components of S.T.E.P.P. We will also discuss programs and resources we have created to continue to emphasize the importance of wellness. You will see pictures of wall designs we created and placed in the halls of our Training Unit to remind officers of the Mission, the Pillars of Wellness and the Goal of the S.T.E.P.P. Program. It was designed to create a positive message and remind officers that they are supported and not alone.