Warrior Compassion

“Working together, the warriors of strength and heart can make a better world.”

-Richard Strozzi-Heckler (In Search of the Warrior Spirit. 2007)

Police Executive Research Forum released a new report this week. Apparently, this is the best the American Police Institution can do when it comes to forward thinking transformational leadership.


There is some wisdom in this report, to be sure. There is unfortunate political momentum to redact from police culture the notion of warrior ethos. This is unfortunate and will, oddly, only serve to cultivate the divide between police officers and their administrations- and police and their communities.

In our efforts to enhance the humanity of policing, we continue to ignore the human behind the badge.

It is time we translate lessons from contemporary interpersonal neurobiology to appropriate training for police officers; train skills such as mindfulness that allow healing and the cultivation of self awareness, empathy and greater capacity for stronger cognitive decision making under acute stress. This is the only foundation that will allow for transformation of police culture. Change from the inside-out.

Changing what we call ourselves will only be a facade. Let’s bravely face the suffering inside and transform that suffering to compassion and strength.

Every day and night, brave men and women lace up their boots and step into the complex world of policing their communities. They are warriors. As leaders, we have allowed the culture to stray away from one of grounded compassion, wisdom and skillful action.

We can train to these warrior traits and heal the officer, the organization and our communities.

Mindfulness has powerful potential to heal warrior culture.

We find ourselves at the intersection of suffering, ancient warrior wisdom, and contemporary neuroscience. May we find our way forward at this place.

About Richard Goerling
Thank you for visiting my blog! My goal is to create a place that allows us to learn from each other, support our first responders, and, perhaps, find ways to facilitate human sustainability and cultural evolution in public safety. My expertise is in policing, yet we share similar occupational stressors, experiences, cultural attitudes and behaviors with our friends and colleagues in the fire service, at the dispatch centers, and in the field and emergency departments with our medics, nurses and doctors. Trauma bonds us. It goes without saying that all of this is relevant for our brothers and sisters serving in the military. I've learned most of what I know about stress management from these great warriors. Let us learn from each other. This blog will explore that trauma bond. We'll look at the work of authors, professors, journalists, and other subject matter experts in diverse disciplines in an effort to improve the resilience (wellness, health, attitude, motivation, etc.) of our first responders. Join us here in the dialogue and let's work together to make a difference, one conversation at a time. Peace.

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