National Center for Women and Policing

Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Saratoga Springs, NY

On September 23rd, a team from Joyful Heart traveled to Saratoga Springs for the National Center for Women and Policing's (NCWP) Annual Leadership Conference, hosted by the New York State Police and co-sponsored by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. The conference was attended by many of the top women in law enforcement from across the nation.

The evening before the conference, the Joyful Heart staff was invited to a reception that included the Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt, Colonel Deb Campbell, the highest ranking woman in the New York State Police, Margaret Moore, Director of NCWP, Commissioner Gwen Boniface, retired Ontario Provincial Police, Lieutenant Colonel Gayle Cameron, retired New Jersey State Police, and many other guests including women who were among the first to join their respective agencies.

The following morning, the NCWP Annual Leadership Conference commenced, with a focus on "Leadership, Learning, and Life Skills." After the presentation of colors, the event's host, Col. Campbell, welcomed the guests to the event and thanked officials from New York State for their support in making the conference a reality. Margaret Moore next spoke about the history of NCWP's conferences and the organization's objective to increase the numbers of women at all ranks of law enforcement as a strategy to improve police response to violence against women, reduce the use of excessive force, and strengthen community policing reforms.

In turn, Commissioner Corbitt, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety, Denise O'Donnell, and Saratoga Springs Chief of Police, Edward Moore each spoke of the important work performed by women in law enforcement, and highlighted many of the positive effects that have been documented as the numbers of women in policing have increased.

Joyful Heart was invited to deliver the keynote address on the first day of the event. The presentation, entitled Sustainable Policing, was part of our Heal the Healers program. The goal of the program was to share various self-care techniques with conference attendees that would allow them to manage the stresses of their jobs while maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit.

The session began with a screening of the JHF's film, The Joyful Revolution, followed by remarks from Joyful Heart's Executive Director, Maile Zambuto. Maile then introduced JHF's Founder & President, Mariska Hargitay, who prepared a video message for the group describing the aim of the Heal the Healers program:

One of the most important aspects of what Joyful Heart does is work with professionals working in the field of trauma.

I was talking to a detective in Queens a few months ago, and of course first we had to throw-down about who was whose hero. She'd been a detective for eight years, I of course just finished my tenth, and she was telling me about some of the cases she'd worked on. Let me tell you, she has seen stuff that no one should ever see. It was stuff no one should even have to think about, much less spend weeks and months mulling over in your brain as you're trying to crack a case. I asked her what she did to take care of herself, so she could unload at least some of what she has to deal with every day, and she basically looked at me like I was from another planet. Then she turned to me and said, 'If anyone knew how I really feel, I would lose my job.'

It's people like her that make me so excited about Joyful Heart's Heal the Healers program. I think maybe in your case it should be called Heal the Heroes, because that is what you are.

You encounter human beings when they are at their most vulnerable, and it is in situations like these-and in the entire spectrum of what you deal with on a given day-that your dedication, your expertise, your compassion and your humanity are so remarkable. Joyful Heart's Heal the Healers work aims to support you in serving in such a profound way on an ongoing basis.

After Mariska's introduction, Joyful Heart presented a session on the impact of vicarious trauma and the importance of self care. Trauma expert and the author of Trauma Stewardship, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, led the session and engaged the audience in a frank discussion about the impact being on "the job" can have.

Throughout the day, Joyful Heart staffed a table and spoke with many of the participants about their experiences as well the various ways to integrate a daily self-care practice into their routine.

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