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IACP 2023 preview: Should law enforcement officers prioritize work or family?

Often in this profession, we think it’s work or family. We see it as either/or, but that’s not how it works

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The goal is to make it into retirement not only with a thriving career, but also with thriving personal relationships.

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On Sunday, Oct. 15 from 1:45-3 p.m. PST, Dr. Rachelle Zemlok, PsyD, and Paul LeBaron, Chief of Police
with the Hermosa Beach (Calif.) Police Department, will present their session, “Command Presence: An Essential Tool for Attaining Your Career Goals and Strong Family Relationships,” in Room 7A at IACP 2023 in San Diego, Calif.

This presentation will equip participants with a scientifically supported skill set, specifically designed for law enforcement professionals, to enhance career success and strengthen family relationships over the course of a career. Potential roadblocks for successful relationships will be explored: command presence, promotional exams, specialized assignments, etc.

Click here for more information on this session, as well as others being presented during IACP 2023.

We are excited to offer you an exclusive preview of an upcoming talk that promises to be a game-changer for law enforcement professionals. The talk, delivered by Dr. Rachelle Zemlok and Chief Paul LeBaron is designed to equip you with the tools and insights you need to strike a balance between your professional responsibilities and personal relationships.

Dr. Rachelle Zemlok, a licensed clinical psychologist and the strategic wellness director at Lexipol, brings a unique perspective to the table. Her clinical work with police officers and their family members, backed by her personal experience as a fire spouse and a sister to retired law enforcement officers, focuses on promoting officer mental health, wellness and balance.

Alongside Dr. Zemlok, Chief Paul LeBaron, a seasoned veteran and Chief of Police in Hermosa Beach, California, will share his invaluable practical experience from his three decades of law enforcement service and 30-year marriage. His lived experience and commitment to employee wellness, reflected in his work on the California Police Chief’s Organizational Wellness Committee, complements Dr. Zemlok’s psychological expertise perfectly.

The synergy between Dr. Zemlok’s psychological expertise and Chief LeBaron’s practical law enforcement experience creates an exceptional dynamic that will undoubtedly provide you with invaluable insights and entertainment.

In their talk, these two emphasize quickly that the journey officers take from the academy to retirement can be a tricky one ... full of unexpected hardship and curve balls. The goal is to make it into retirement not only with a thriving career, but also with thriving personal relationships.

Chief LeBaron will candidly share his own experiences, highlighting the challenges he faced in his relationships. He will emphasize the life lessons that led him to learn about the constant attention relationships require in order to thrive. He will address the common dread of retirement among officers and encourage a redefinition of the traditional “command presence” to better cater to both professional and personal relationships.

To underscore these ideas, Dr. Zemlok will bring forward case studies of actual law enforcement couples and how she has assisted some of them in confronting these difficulties. She will also introduce intriguing research about marriages that reinforces these points, presenting a compelling argument for the efficacy of these methods in tackling common challenges.

In their presentation, they will examine three vital tools for achieving equilibrium between work and personal life:

  1. Situational awareness: A paramount skill in police work will be explored, focusing on its relevance to personal relationships. Dr. Zemlock suggests that the same degree of vigilance and consciousness that is pivotal in an officer’s professional role could also greatly enhance a police officer’s personal interactions and relationships.
  2. Thoughtful approach: Officers are extremely thoughtful in their approach to every challenging situation they are thrown into at work. When officers tackle difficult dialogues in their personal lives, as they would in high-pressure situations on duty, they stand to gain significantly on a personal level. It turns out that how you start challenging conversations is extremely important. This presentation will provide useful advice on how to achieve this effectively.
  3. Collaborative solutions: They present a fresh perspective on collaboration – an approach that can transform the way you lead and foster stronger relationships. This approach, inspired by the timeless wisdom of relationship science, carries a powerful message: True collaboration is a team sport, not a one-person show. There is an art to doing this with those we are closest with and using effective communication skills can be helpful.

In closing, this talk will accentuate the importance of each of the highlighted skills, arguing that these skills are vital for achieving a balance between career success and a gratifying personal life. The key takeaway is to apply the same diligence and dedication used in professional life to personal relationships, promoting a healthier and more balanced life overall.

This insightful talk is not to be missed. We eagerly await your participation in this enlightening session.

NEXT: IACP 2023 preview: This Calif. PD has the ‘secret sauce’ when it comes to recruitment, hiring and retention

Dr. Rachelle Zemlok is a licensed clinical psychologist in California, specializing in work with first responder families. She serves as the strategic wellness director at Lexipol, supporting the content and strategy related to first responder mental health and wellness, with a special focus on supporting spouses and family members through the Cordico Wellness App. Prior to joining Lexipol, Zemlok founded First Responder Family Psychology, which provides culturally competent therapy to first responders and their family members. She is the author of “The Firefighter Family Academy: A Guide to Educate & Prepare Spouses for the Career Ahead.” For more information on Dr. Zemlok or to connect with her please visit her website.