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How the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office built an award-winning officer wellness program

In 2022, the agency received the NLEOMF’s Destination Zero Officer Wellness Award – learn about the key elements of their program

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In 2022, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office in central California received the NLEOMF’s Destination Zero Officer Wellness Award.

In this special episode of the Policing Matters podcast, which was recorded live on March 29 as part of First Responder Wellness Week, host Jim Dudley speaks with Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse and Sergeant Aaron Costello about how to develop an effective wellness program that gets buy-in from officers.

The discussion focuses on the importance of implementing a culture of wellness from the top down; the key components of a comprehensive wellness program; and strategies to incentive employee participation

Additional resources on officer wellness programs

About our guests

Sheriff Jeff Dirkse was born in Southern California and raised in Denair. He graduated from Turlock High School in 1990 and the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, in 1994, with a Bachelor of Science degree. He subsequently served in the US Army as an Infantry Platoon Leader, Ranger Platoon Leader, Infantry Company Commander and most recently was a Watch Officer at Special Operations Command, Europe. Sheriff Dirkse began his career in law enforcement in 2007 with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. He served on patrol and as a detective in STING (Special Team Investigating Narcotics and Gangs) and rural crime. He was promoted to sergeant in 2013 and served on patrol and in internal affairs. In 2015, he was promoted to lieutenant and was appointed as the Chief of Patterson Police Services. He manages the Explorer program and was a founding member of the Sheriff’s Department’s Mobile Field Force, which assists other agencies during disasters and search and rescue missions. Jeff Dirkse was sworn into the office as Sheriff-Coroner on January 7, 2019.

Sergeant Aaron Costello began his law enforcement career in 2003 with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. He has worked on patrol and as a detective in the gang unit. He was promoted to sergeant in 2013. Since the beginning of his career, he has been assigned to the SWAT team and currently functions as the team leader. Over the years he has been involved in instruction for EVOC, range, defensive tactics


About our sponsor

This episode of the Policing Matters Podcast is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit


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Policing Matters law enforcement podcast with host Jim Dudley features law enforcement and criminal justice experts discussing critical issues in policing