Screenshot Courtesy ABC News Video
At a time when there is an uneasy, sometimes even volatile, divide between some communities and the police officers who are sworn to protect them, one police chief is encouraging her department to practice meditation as a way to help ease the stress of policing.
Chief Sylvia Moir, who has been the head of the Tempe Police Department in Tempe, Arizona, for the past year and has nearly 30 years of policing experience, believes teaching and practicing meditation should be a key piece of police officer development.
“In policing, it’s essential that we respond. We don’t react,” Moir told ABC News’ Dan Harris in an interview for his “10% Happier” podcast. “Without a doubt I think the [meditation] practice shows promise, getting us to be present, not take triggers, not take the bait that makes us react and if the practice can get us to see the perspective of another to enhance our compassion, then I think it does lend itself to broader application in policing.”
It’s important for officers to “be tactically sound and physically fit,” Moir said. She practices mindfulness, a series of meditation techniques that are designed to slow the mind, focus on the breath and bring attention back from distraction, as well as gratitude — focusing on positive emotions.
Moir said she usually practices meditation in the early morning for about 10 minutes while sitting in a chair.
Moir spoke at length about benefits of meditation, including how it not only helps officers make smarter decisions in the field but also how it makes them more thoughtful people who see tense situations from all perspectives, not just their own.
Moir admitted that some of her officers will grumble about whether it will make them lose their “edge,” but she doesn’t see it that way.
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