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Baby behind the badge

Temporary removal from the law enforcement front lines can take a mental toll on a mom-to-be — here are some key considerations for staying connected

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Reinforcing a healthy work environment and providing appropriate accommodations can contribute to the well-being of pregnant officers and ensure they can continue to serve effectively during this unique phase of their lives and their career.

DALL-E

Being a pregnant police officer can be stressful. As far as work is concerned, I found one of the most stressful parts to “out of commission.” Temporary removal from the law enforcement front lines can take a mental toll on a mom-to-be. While there will always be room for administrative improvement, the work environment, as a whole, for pregnant police officers has changed positively over the past decades. Pregnant police officers should no longer expect to be sent home, lose pay, or be fired because they are pregnant. Instead, they can expect federal laws to be followed and do their best to stay in the front-line loop. To reinforce inclusion, peer officers and supervisors should support their mom-to-be.

During my second pregnancy, I wrote “Staying In Touch While Out of Service.” It is an informational class for officers working on a limited-duty assignment but is also geared toward leaders to provide ideas on how to include their limited duty officers in day-to-day operations. This inclusion, along with continued support, may help officers more easily transition back into a full-duty status. Here’s a summary of some key considerations:

1. Policy updates, department memorandums and new laws

A mom-to-be should still receive all this information when working on an assignment other than a full-duty police officer. For me, it would be more stressful to return from a limited duty assignment and have to learn and review nine months’ worth of policy, memos and law information. Sharing it as it is disseminated helps with information sharing and retention.

2. Communication

Great communication helps maintain strong connections. If the officer is working in the same location, include them in daily roll calls and/or team meetings. Information sharing continues even when an officer is on limited duty. They may be able to provide valuable insights into ongoing investigations. While “pregnancy brain” may lead a mom-to-be to forget where she put her car keys, chances are she won’t forget the person she arrested 6 months ago who had the same M.O. and descriptors as the perpetrator in today’s unsolved burglary.

3. Physical training

Stretching, strength training and cardio remain important during pregnancy. If your agency permits on-duty workouts for everyone and the mom-to-be’s doctor approves, consider allowing limited-duty officers to continue this practice. It’s essential to establish rules and guidelines, so consult with legal to determine what works for everyone.

None of these fitness activities need to require equipment. Stretching can involve body stretches, strength exercises can be limited to body weight, and cardio can consist of walking in place. Of course, do not begin (or allow) any physical training exercise program without first consulting a physician.

4. Defensive and control tactics

Multiple techniques can be practiced alone or statically with a trusted partner. Some individual work can include patterns of movement, blocks and handcuffing on makeshift wrists. Examples of partner work includes wristlocks, armbars, blocks and handcuffing. Going nine months without using handcuffs will take an officer out of the continual repetition game.

5. Firearms

While I did not visit the firearms range during my pregnancies, officers and their doctors make individual decisions on whether or not to attend. Aside from shooting at the range, officers can break down and clean their weapons to keep in practice. Other options include dry fire drills and penny drills. Renowned firearms instructor Todd Fletcher says, “Five minutes of quality dry practice time three to four times per week will greatly improve skills.” For more info from Todd, check out this article: Range drills for training on your own time.

While these ideas will help police officers stay involved with their work, agency leaders still need to keep in mind the importance of employment laws, physical demands, uniform fit, risks of injury, limited duty assignment options, shift work, fatigue, and ongoing mental and emotional strain. Law enforcement agencies increasingly recognize the importance of addressing these challenges and implementing policies to support pregnant officers. Reinforcing a healthy work environment and providing appropriate accommodations can contribute to the well-being of pregnant officers and ensure they can continue to serve effectively during this unique phase of their lives and their career.

Watch for the book “Baby Behind the Badge” set for release later this year. I started writing it 18 years ago when I was pregnant with my first daughter and had a young boy at home. Now that my kids are adults and teens and tweens and enjoy some time away from me, I thought it might be a good time to finish writing. The book is a compilation of different work experiences from police officer moms (and a few dads) to-be. Since I’ve been out of the pregnancy game for a bit, I’m looking for another story or two to add to this collection. If you have one you would like to share, please reach out to huth.angel@gmail.com.

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Angeleic Huth currently teaches law enforcement/police science at a career center in the Kansas City metro area and was recently named the 2023 National New Teacher of the Year for the Association of Career and Technical Education Trade Industrial Skills Division. She is retired from the KCMO/PD where she served as a police officer, spending her last three years as the lead Physical Training and Defensive Tactics Instructor at the police academy. With over 25 years in law enforcement and the court system, she continues to train first responders and civilian groups in various programs, writes curricula for police training, and is a safety, security and policy consultant.