FSU Institute Receives Florida TaxWatch Award
FSU Institute for Justice Research and Development received a 2022 Florida TaxWatch Productivity Award. The awards recognize and reward state employees and work groups who find ways to improve services, increase efficiency and save Florida taxpayers money.
This year, Florida State University was awarded the most Productivity Awards of any institution in the State University System.
“FSU is the No. 1 university with the best and most productivity awards,” said Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “This is a one-of-a-kind program that recognizes, rewards and replicates excellence in state government.”
The Institute for Justice Research and Development was nominated for its innovative online training program developed to provide support to law enforcement officers experiencing post-traumatic stress. The online training, Resiliency Behind the Badge, was designed to be easily accessible and self-paced to provide officers with a framework to understand how exposure to suffering and violence can influence the mind and body to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
Law enforcement is five times more likely to experience depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and an 82% higher risk of suicide than the general population. The impact of post-traumatic stress makes it more likely for those experiencing trauma to have difficulty regulating their emotions, misappraise threats and experience increased levels of aggression and interpersonal challenges. Research indicates that family members of law enforcement officers are also impacted and may experience secondary trauma.
Despite the impact of trauma and stress on officers, stigma remains around mental health. Law enforcement culture often does not promote the recognition of mental health challenges or help-seeking services.
To address this, the Institute for Justice Research and Development began having informal discussions with law enforcement across the United States. The institute developed a training program with a biological approach, emphasizing the recognition of trauma symptoms, education on the neurobiology of trauma and concrete techniques to address these symptoms.
As a virtual training program, Resiliency Behind the Badge not only provides easily accessible information to the law enforcement officer but evidence-based and easy-to-understand coping techniques. The training also has the benefit of allowing officers access to the program in a way that is self-paced, private and does away with potential stigma from others.
The institute teamed up with the Florida Sheriff Association’s Training Institute to provide free access to the training for all the association’s members. Just this year the training was accessed and utilized by more than 130 Florida law enforcement officers, saving the state more than $19,000 dollars.
An additional benefit of the digital training program is that it is scalable and can be accessed by law enforcement across Florida. The training can also be adapted to provide support training to other professions that experience high levels of stress and trauma including first responders, firefighters, correctional officers and public defenders.
The team to develop this training was led by the institute’s founding executive director Dr. Carrie Pettus and included Amberly Prykhodko, Nancy Revell, Janeen Piotrowski and Kerensa Lockwood.
The awards were presented on November 1st. Florida TaxWatch presents the awards annually and gave out 148 awards this year. The organization indicated the individuals and groups receiving the awards have saved Florida taxpayers more than $818 billion this year and have contributed to saving an estimated $12 billion in total savings since the Productivity Award program was established.
Florida TaxWatch is an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit government watchdog and taxpayer research institute. Its mission aims to serve as the eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers and to promote the stewardship of taxpayer money.
“We are really excited and proud of the work we’re doing with them, and that we’re doing our work efficiently and effectively, that translates into a good experience for our students,” said Renisha Gibbs, FSU associate vice president for human resources and administration chief of staff.