LEO – Community Engagement Ideas

LEO – Community Engagement Ideas

Community engagement is critical to ensuring that your police department is trusted, respected, and supported by the communities you serve. Building and maintaining positive relationships with residents, business owners and other community members help peace officers more effectively carry out their mission to serve and protect. It also helps citizens better understand emergency and public safety response and how to access help, as well as become better prepared for disasters, emergency situations, and other events affecting the whole community.

Covid has meant that engagement efforts must look different (i.e. socially distanced and with precautions) than before; however, that doesn’t mean they should stop or slow down. In fact, in times of crises like this, community engagement is more important than ever.

Here are some ideas for your agency to strengthen the bonds with your community – while keeping everyone safe.

 

Host virtual events

Many events that used to happen in person can be transitioned online fairly easily. Use platforms such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Google Hangouts, or even Facebook Live from your department’s Facebook page.

    • Community meetings – Whether a town hall or something less formal, virtual meetings allow your department to meet with your community on specific topics, questions, or concerns they may have. They also allow you to share news, announcements, and new campaigns or initiatives.
    • Meet and greets – Let your neighborhoods meet their peace officers! Showing your officers’ human side – personalities, humor, and all – goes a long way toward relationship-building. This can be as simple as short self-intro videos to virtual ride-alongs in a squad car and campaigns designed for young audiences.
    • Virtual tour – Offer a virtual tour of the department and its facilities – everyone loves getting a peek behind the front doors.

 

Connect with kids and youth

Forming good relationships with youth is key to creating a community environment where citizens can live, work and play free from fear of crime.

    • K9 tour – Service dogs in canine units are a perennial hit with kids. You can share live videos of the dogs training with their handlers, as well as tours of their kennels and a peek inside K9 vehicles. What are the most common questions about the dogs? – answer those in your video! Check out some examples here, here, and here.
    • Storytime – Make an early, positive impression on kids by reading and sharing their favorite books. Check out other departments’ videos here and here. You can customize for any age group or by topic – the possibilities are endless! Channel some Mr. Rogers, and you’ll have fans for life.

 

Bring it outside

With a little creativity and the proper safety precautions, your department can do many of the outdoor activities you used to, shift some previously indoor activities outside, or even start a new tradition or two.

    • Events at the station – Depending on your station’s outdoor facilities, you can host meet and greets, K9 with kids, town halls, press briefings, and more – anything where groups can stay small and socially distanced.
    • Community walks – Police chiefs like this one and this one have made a point of walking their neighborhoods as a way to meet local residents. By answering questions and learning about residents’ experiences and concerns, police leaders are able to better understand the community’s needs and challenges. These friendly one-on-one conversations also foster goodwill and help citizens feel invested.

 

Leverage networks

Screens, airwaves, and other virtual channels aren’t going anywhere, even when the pandemic ends. They give you a ton of options for new and sustainable ways to connect with your community.

    • Social media – Your department’s social channels are great for 2-way communication, allowing you to push out information that you want your community to know, and also to hear directly from citizens. A simple social media strategy will help advance community outreach, problem-solving, and crime prevention efforts.
    • Traditional media – Even in the digital age, “old school” media still plays an important role in helping your department spread messages, disseminate information, and raise awareness and community engagement. Build your media relationships to leverage local TV, radio, and newspapers.

 

Make it fun, make it meaningful – make it about them

Despite there being an end to the pandemic is on the horizon, these are still stressful times. A bit of levity can help immensely and reminds the citizens you serve that your peace officers and your department are an integral part of their community. Directly addressing the concerns, questions, and interests of your community will go a long way toward building those relationships and trust that’s paramount to your department’s success.

 

Support different languages

If your community is a diverse one, make sure to offer critical information in multiple languages on your virtual channels. This cuts down on information barriers and helps improve public health and safety in the entire community.

 

Community engagement remains one of the best ways to foster trust and respect between community members and peace officers. With a little retooling of your outreach programs, as well as some new ideas and thinking outside the box, you and your colleagues can continue building those relationships – while staying safe and keeping your community safe.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

7 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Physical, Psychological and Financial Threats

7 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Physical, Psychological and Financial Threats

To many police officers, a degree of hostility from suspects and others is par for the course while on the job. However, recently the degree of animosity toward police has grown and collectively many officers are now facing a rising tide of threats.  Some are even going as far as targeting off-duty officers in their personal lives.

Law enforcement officers can protect themselves and their families from financial harm with ID theft resolution services, Fallen Hero benefits and other insurance products from California Casualty.

These threats are not just physical. Due to the availability of personal information being used online and the increase in web traffic due to the pandemic, many cybercriminals and scammers are also targeting police officers online. Unfortunately, there may not be a way for officers to make these threats disappear, but there are many steps you can take to reduce danger for yourself and the people you love. Here are seven ways you can protect yourself and your family from physical, psychological, and financial threats – in person and online.

1. Secure your premises. It should go without saying, but personal safety at home starts with securing your property and your possessions. The best way to make sure you and your family stay safe from threats at home is to invest in a monitored home security system. A security system will give you 24/7 access to who is entering (or trying to enter) your home. To further protect your belongings from uninvited guests, you should avoid giving out your home address, properly secure your home – doors, windows, locks, etc. – and invest in scheduled personal property coverage. 

 

2. Keep a low profile at home and online.  Avoid any kind of threat to your home or family by maintaining a low profile.

At home: Steer clear of displaying overt symbols at your home that could indicate a police officer lives there. Avoid driving marked cars home, or leaving them parked in your driveway, change into civilian clothes when off duty, and enlist trustworthy neighbors to be on the lookout for suspicious cars or pedestrians.

Online: Do not put your department name or badge number anywhere online. Be cautious of posting any photos of yourself in your uniform on any personal profiles, and never give out any personal information to anyone on the web.

 

3. Communicate with your family. As much as you may try to shield your spouse and children from fear and worry, it’s important to make and share a safety plan with them. Sit down together and discuss what to do (or not do) if they feel unsafe or if they encounter a threat online.

You can also take other measures to ensure your family’s safety, like location tracking and phone monitoring apps.

 

4. Use social media wisely. The internet has made it easy for hostile individuals to find personal information about police officers and their families, a process known as doxxing. The data they dig up can be used to harass officers and their family members online and in person.

The best way to deal with doxxing is to be smart about what you share on social media. Avoid posting in uniform, never share personal information, and tell your family to be cautious about what they are sharing as well.

Should harassment occur through any social media platform, take immediate action and report it to these outlets, as well as to your own commanders.

 

5. Avoid identity theft. Identity theft is an increasingly serious threat to American consumers.

Identity theft happens when your personal identifiable information (PII) becomes compromised. Identify theft can happen to anyone at any age and can completely ruin your credit. ID theft scams and fraudulent unemployment claim scams are on the rise amidst the pandemic. To avoid identity theft here’s what you can do:

    • Never share Social Security numbers, PINs, and other numeric data linked to your identity and logins.
    • Do not put credit card numbers in emails.
    • Avoid opening emails from people you don’t know, and never click on links or attachments unless you be can be sure that they are legitimate
    • Use complex and unique passwords for each of your online accounts that include a mix of letters, numbers, and typographic symbols in upper and lower case.
      • Do not use birthdays, anniversaries, or pet names.
    • Stay away from online quizzes asking for facts about your personal life events and preferences.

California Casualty offers all policyholders access to free ID theft resolution services from CyberScout. In the event you or a family member has their identity stolen and used for fraudulent transactions, the service can help limit damage, gather evidence against fraudsters, and help restore damaged credit.

 

6. Protect Your Finances. While monitoring your credit for any changes or signs of identity theft, you should also be keeping a close eye on all of your financial accounts for suspicious activity. You should check balances on all of your accounts as often as possible for any changes. And if your provider offers suspicious activity alerts, sign up! But be aware – some telephone scammers pose as credit card companies that will call you to try and get your account information. Never give anyone your personal information or credit card number over the phone, even if they claim they are with your provider. Instead, hang up and check for yourself.

 

7. Plan for your future. Having an insurance policy in place from a trusted provider can help mitigate the devastating financial challenges families can face after an auto accident, burglary, natural disaster, or more. California Casualty has been protecting police officers across the nation since 1969 and offers discounted rates and exclusive benefits including off-duty firearm coverage and the Fallen Hero benefit.

It is an unfortunate reality that the people sworn to protect society are facing these threats themselves, but police officers are no strangers to danger. As always, stay safe and be prepared.

 

Looking to protect your gear?

To help police officers secure their gear and their peace of mind, California Casualty is sponsoring the Safe and Secure Giveaway. This year, three first responders will win a brand-new Liberty Safe filled with 5.11 gear. Enter here for your chance to win.

 

Sponsored by California Casualty

Written By Police1 BrandFocus Staff

California Casualty Gives $15,000 to the California Peace Officers Memorial Fund

California Casualty Gives $15,000 to the California Peace Officers Memorial Fund

San Mateo, CA, March 5, 2021 – California Casualty donated $15,000 to the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) to financially support their education scholarship/grant program. The CPOMF Scholarship Program provides educational grants to surviving spouses and children of California peace officers who have died in the line of duty.

Typically the fallen officer has been the primary wage earner for his/her family. The CPOMF Scholarship Program eases the financial burden suddenly placed on the family left behind and assists in creating opportunities for long-term success. All surviving spouses and children of fallen officers are eligible for the CPOMF Scholarship Program. Many of the scholarship grants use additional scholarship funding not just for student tuition but housing, books, and supplies, etc.

The financial contribution was made in support of the ongoing efforts of the CPOMF: to recognize and honor California’s fallen heroes and to provide services, financial assistance, advocacy, and support to the surviving families left behind.

calcas donation presentation

“Fallen Hero Families make the greatest sacrifice of losing their spouse, father, or mother to create a safer community to live and work in. CPOMF honors those who fall in the line of duty and their families by providing meaningful scholarships. Educational grants are not limited to four-year colleges or universities but extend to Community Colleges Trade or Vocational Schools for surviving spouses and children of California Fallen Heroes. California Casualty’s Scholarship Grant is one small way to give back to California’s Law Enforcement Families who have suffered such tremendous loss.” – Roxanne Dean, Vice President Account Relations

The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) mission is to organize, coordinate and fund the annual California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony, maintain the memorial monument, subsidize survivor support groups (e.g., COPS & Peer Support groups), and support the families of our fallen heroes through educational grant and financial assistance programs.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation run by a board of volunteers comprised of retired and active peace officers from across California, the CPOMF is solely funded by donations from Corporate Sponsors, individuals, and law enforcement associations. California Casualty contributes to the CPOMF Scholarship Fund every year.

“We are thankful for long-term Corporate Sponsors, such as, California Casualty. Without our sponsors and corporate partners, the programs and support provided by the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation would not be possible. California Casualty has been an active partner supporting the CPOMF board, activities, and events for the last 14 years that I’ve been involved with this organization. California Casualty understands their financial impact allows for CPOMF to provide survivor assistance and scholarships to the family members of California’s Fallen Peace Officers.” – Sergeant Kevin Michelson is the President of CPOMF and the President of Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association.

Any individual or organization wanting to donate to the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) can do so by visiting https://camemorial.org/donate-now.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

First Responders, What’s Your Why?

First Responders, What’s Your Why?

Ask any first responder why they chose their profession, and the overwhelming answer is that they were called to serve and help others. Chances are, this was yours too.

The last couple of years have been like no other, with you and your fellow first responders on the frontlines of multiple crises facing our communities and nation all at the same time. It’s been rough going.

But sometimes the antidote to tough times is to reconnect with your “big why” – the reason(s) you signed up for this profession in the first place and why you and your colleagues keep showing up every day, no matter what the day brings. Here are some common “why’s” we hear from first responders – what resonates for you?

 

Making a Difference

This is one of the few careers where your actions, talents, and presence can make a literal life and death difference. You have a direct impact on improving communities and making them safer. In your role, you often lead by example and can positively influence others, which means you have the privilege of helping someone become their best self.

 

Camaraderie

There’s no feeling quite like being part of a team or unit with a higher purpose. Everyone has their role and is there to support and work with each other toward a common goal. You may go through tough, grueling situations together – some are tragic, but others offer up the best of humanity too. This is your support network that understands you and shares the emotional and mental challenges that come with the job. For many, your “work family” ends up being your closest life-long friends.

 

Physical Activity

First responder jobs require physical strength and stamina. The profession demands that you stay in shape and in top form – ready for whatever physical challenges the day may throw at you. Many first responders maintain their fitness by running, lifting weights, hiking, and other outdoor activities. This primes you for long days and long hours, bouts of intense activity, and sudden emergency situations.

 

Flexibility and Mobility

There’s no 9-to-5 here! Your profession offers flexible hours and variety in terms of different placements, shifts, and rotations. For some, this flexible schedule allows them to work a second job or pursue other interests or hobbies. Another perk: You can also work wherever you want! Your skills and training are in demand in cities and communities across the country (and globe, really), which gives you the unique advantage of being able to pick and choose.

 

No Two Days Are the Same

For a first responder, the constant is change. Each day is different – one day could be an emergency call across town; the next, a day of paperwork in the office; and the next, patrolling a neighborhood that’s experiencing a crime wave. You never know what the day will bring, but you always bring the skills and experience to deal with whatever the situation calls for. If you thrive in these kinds of environments, you picked the right career.

 

A Reason to be Proud

Because you and your colleagues save lives, stand up for what’s right, and are called to serve others, you’re respected by your communities. Integrity and duty are baked into this career, so you consistently earn the loyalty and admiration of colleagues, friends, family, and community members.

 

Continual Self-Improvement

This line of work usually includes opportunities for professional development, continuing education, and obtaining training or new skills. If you want to pursue a specialty within your profession or even branch out to another division, there’s usually a clear path and support. Additionally, because this work is mission-driven, it invites self-reflection and personal growth.

 

Connection with the Community

As a first responder, you build relationships within your community and the neighborhoods you serve. You have the satisfaction of seeing your efforts pay off over the long term. And you’ll be able to team up with organizations and individuals, united in a shared goal of strengthening community bonds.

If anyone is built for resiliency during tough times, it’s you, our first responders. But on those tough days, remember your big why’s and also that your communities and neighbors are grateful for and appreciate you. Sometimes it’s not said enough, but we thank you so much for your service and commitment to keeping us safe!

And finally, if you’re someone who’s looking at pursuing this career, talk to first responders about their experience and advice. Look at enrolling in courses or joining mentoring or other programs offered by your local agencies. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more demanding, mission-driven, and rewarding career.

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Thank a Peace Officer Today!

Thank a Peace Officer Today!

Today is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (LEAD) – a day designated to honor the more than 800,000 men and women across the country who have taken the pledge to protect and serve.

From fighting crime and saving lives to ensuring public safety, responding to accidents, and building community relations, law enforcement officers improve our communities in a million different ways every single day.

In fact, their work is so foundational to our everyday sense of safety and security that it can be easy to forget all that they do. So today, join us and millions of other Americans in showing appreciation for our officers in blue.

Here are some things you can do today and every day to show your support:

    • Send a thank you card to your local police department.
    • Wear blue in support of law enforcement today – you could also make your social media picture blue for the day, or even change it to your local police department’s logo or insignia.
    • Ask your kids – and/or those in the neighborhood – to write letters to peace officers. If your kids seem interested in officers’ careers, sign them up for a mentorship or other program offered by police departments.
    • Follow your local police department on social media – you’ll not only be more aware of local news and alerts, but also gain a greater understanding of all that your department deals with. And when you have a good experience with law enforcement, give them a shout-out on your page! Boosting the positive highlights the good that officers do day in and day out.
    • Support officer causes and fundraising drives. Better yet, volunteer! As a civilian, you can help supplement and support officers by doing things like clerical tasks, assisting with search and rescue, reporting graffiti in neighborhoods and helping with equipment and property inventory.
    • Participate in initiatives, projects and programs launched by your local police department to build relationships in their communities. These might include events like National Night Out, Coffee with a Cop or even neighborhood barbeques.
    • Take part in Project Blue Light, which honors and remembers officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Your local community most likely has a Facebook page.
    • Help prevent police suicides. Check out Blue H.E.L.P. and click on “Get Involved” to see how you can help.
    • Give blood in honor of fallen heroes – C.O.P.S and the American Red Cross co-host a national Blue Blood Drive every year.
    • Donate – Direct financial support can help organizations that serve officers achieve greater impact. Here are some law enforcement and first responder charities to consider (and some general tips on doing your due diligence with any charity organization).
    • Participate in law enforcement surveys – These help by providing honest feedback from community members around policing efforts or areas of concern.
    • Sign up for your Neighborhood Watch program – start here.
    • Check out these additional tips – especially relevant during the pandemic.

Most importantly, say “Thank you” whenever you get the chance. In-person, on social media, wherever – use your voice to support officers. Their job asks them to put their lives on the line every day; by sharing thanks and gratitude you can help boost their morale and make those tough days a little brighter!

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Spotting Signs of PTSD in First Responders

Spotting Signs of PTSD in First Responders

Studies have shown that first responders are at a much greater risk to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than the general public due to their exposure to high levels of physical and emotional stress. Sadly, throughout their career, many first responders will develop anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues, that are oftentimes linked to suicide.

Mental health, a once-taboo subject for departments, is now becoming more normalized with the aid of department programs, advocacy campaigns, and initiatives that help educate and bring awareness to PTSD, depression, and other types of mental health issues commonly found in first responders.

September is Suicide Awareness Month. Do your part in helping decrease first responder suicide by learning how to spot the early signs of PTSD in your first responder friends, family members, or colleagues.

Early signs of PTSD to look out for include:

 

Intrusive Memories

  • Memories of the traumatic event
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares or upsetting dreams
  • Emotional reactions triggered by a reminder of the traumatic event

 

Eluding & Avoiding

  • Not speaking of the event
  • Avoiding people, places, or activities

 

Behavioral Changes

  • Irritability
  • Lack of Interest
  • Feeling detached
  • Memory problems

 

Physical Reactions

  • Easily startled or frightened
  • Trouble sleeping and concentrating
  • Exhibiting self-destructive behavior
  • Always being on guard

 

Over time, these symptoms can differ and vary in intensity.

If you or someone you know is struggling with any of these signs of PTSD or other mental health issues, you are not alone. Please reach out to a mental health professional. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to a professional, start by reaching out to a close colleague, family member, or friend.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

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