McHenry Conservation District Police Department | Family Financial Literacy
McHenry Conservation District Police Department (IL)
This is the McHenry Conservation District Police Department’s (MCPD) second submission to the National Officer Safety and Wellness Awards. The MCPD is a very small agency with an extremely limited budget. Chief of Police Laura King has built on what she started in 2019 and has some dramatic results to show for her efforts.
To improve morale, safety and the wellbeing of its few officers, the Chief of Police took it upon herself to not only lead the way but create an in-house committee to look at the issues that affected the force. In 2019, after having convened a committee, the Chief and her staff implemented some changes to increase the fitness level of her officers, support their work-life balance and enhance the resources that support their mental health. Apart from the wellness fairs, free flu shots, and vaccines, the Chief wanted to do more but had few resources.
In 2019, a space in their facility was cleared, and weights and boxes were obtained to create a workout and CrossFit space for officers to exercise in. That space has been improved and there continues to be an arrangement through the Labor Union, to allow officers to work out while on duty in the fitness space. This option is in addition to the stipend officers can receive to use a local gym to work out in. Currently 100% of MCDP officers utilize the on-duty option on a regular basis.
The Chief and her staff use the new space in the mornings to exercise and she leads yoga classes. In addition to the new exercise room and equipment, there are healthy snacks, purchased by the chief, that are available in the breakroom, which includes a new Vitamix blender to make healthy smoothies.
The MCDP, listened to their officers and made an adjustment to ten-hour shifts. This helped to reduce stress, and allow officers every other weekend at home, with three days off. This change, as measured across all of 2020 has shown a dramatic improvement in officer production and a dramatic reduction in the use of sick leave.
The MCDP also recognized the increase in law enforcement suicides and added to their officers’ options for mental health support by utilizing the “Never Walk Alone”, 24-hour Peer Support service. The agency already has a funded Employee Assistance Program and sent out packets to each officer and their family to ensure they know how to avail themselves of the services when needed. The Chief sends officers to the “Valor for Blue,” training programs when they are available and displays their safety posters in the police facility.
The Chief added a financial literacy program as well as a wellness program for families and children and wrote a book on safety and wellness for law enforcement.
The MCPD officers renewed their “Destination Zero Agreement” to affirm their commitment to the Health and Wellness Policy, which officers must sign and acknowledge their responsibility to keep themselves healthy, both physically and mentally. The agreement makes officers cognizant of the stressors and difficulties associated with police work and encourages them to seek help when needed.