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The Resilience Project provides UMB Police Department (UMBPD) officers with training and strategies to combat stress and trauma.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore Police Department (UMBPD) prides itself on being different. For Education and Training Lt. Todd Ring, that means planning new, progressive training for police officers. Starting in September, all UMBPD police officers will take part in the 10-session Resilience Project.

“The Resilience Project is an interdisciplinary seminar series on trauma and resilience through the lens of police work,” Ring said. “The project brings together experts and trainees from the School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing, UMBPD, and the University of Maryland Department of Computer Science.”

Participants in the Resilience Project include UMBPD police officers, computer science students, and health professions students. They will learn about stress physiology responses, trauma exposure, and high-risk situations that occur in police work. The participants also will learn about virtual reality (VR) simulation tools that can be used to improve police training. They will apply what they learn to propose a new component for police training. 

The Resilience Project is led by Gloria Reeves, MD, a child and adult psychiatrist with the School of Medicine. Reeves has extensive experience working with those impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“As a psychiatrist, this topic is of great interest to me because many patients I treat with serious mental illness have contact with the police during crisis episodes,” said Reeves said. “As a scientist, I am also intrigued by the possibility of integrating new VR technology and research findings on stress and resilience with best practices in police training. As a citizen, I also appreciate the commitment to re-examine the existing approach to police training and to create a dialogue on how training can be used to improve outcomes for both police officers and the community members they serve.”

The sessions will address unmet needs in clinical training on stress and trauma by focusing on resilience strategies, addressing the unique needs of individuals with ongoing trauma exposure, learning directly from the lived experience of those in high-risk occupations, and discussing prevention and training strategies.

“Police officers come across people on their worst day. We’re proud to offer care and support during crisis situations,” said UMBPD Interim Chief Thomas Leone. “But we also need to recognize that police officers’ work can be traumatic, and we need to tackle that head-on. The Resilience Project ensures that our entire department knows how to handle that stress and knows there are resources available.”

In addition to Reeves and Ring, the Resilience Project Team is composed of:

  • Mark Kvarta, MD, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    UMB School of Medicine
  • Susan dos Reis, BSPharm, PhD
    Vice Chair for Research and Professor, Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
    UMB School of Pharmacy
  • Kristin Bussell, PhD, CRNP-PMH
    Assistant Professor, Family and Community Health
    UMB School of Nursing
  • Aniket Bera, PhD
    Assistant Research Professor, Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
    University of Maryland, College Park
  • Jill RachBeisel, MD
    Dr. Irving J. Taylor Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry
    UMB School of Medicine

UMBPD is a progressive police department committed to community outreach and support. In June, UMBPD was awarded the prestigious 2021 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)/Walmart Leadership in Community Policing Award for a Midsize Agency. In 2020, the UMBPD’s robust training contributed to accreditation for professional excellence in public safety from both the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). In 2019, the department earned the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Proactive Crime Prevention.

The Resilience Project is one important piece in UMBPD’s rigorous training, which includes implicit bias, pro-LGBTQ+ policing, conflict and dispute resolution, de-escalation and minimizing use of force, mental health first aid, hate crimes and color of law, assisting students in distress, and more. Ring also is developing a UMBPD peer support group for police officers to talk with others about stressful or traumatic experiences.

“I’m so grateful to our partners across the University System of Maryland who are making this dream a reality,” Leone said. “This is one more way that UMB and UMBPD are paving the way toward better, healthier, community-oriented policing.”

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