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STOCKTON POLICE CHIEF Stanley McFadden and his team of officers and other city officials recently celebrated the launch of an organizational wellness unit at the Police Department’s operations building.

Born from the vision of McFadden, the unit includes a quiet room for an officer to decompress after a shift and a counseling room where officers can speak with peer support officers or members of the wellness unit — a sergeant, a chaplain and an officer, if needed.

Being a police officer “is a hard job, and we’re already very lean and doing more with less,” McFadden said. “The commitment is to be making sure they’re well made before they go out in the field.”

Officer Antoinette Lizzardo, at right, with the Organization Wellness Unit, talks to fellow officers during the unveiling of the new Organizational Wellness Center at the Stockton Police Department Operation Building on Feb. 22, 2023. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Wellness unit officer Antoinette Lizardo said the officers would have access to Lighthouse, a smartphone app for first responders to access their agency’s health and wellness programs. Through the application, the officers can find a library of resources and tools to meet their needs.

“Say you’re having a bad day, and you want to see if you’re consuming too much caffeine, you can go on the app and take a quiz,” Lizardo said. “It will tell you if you’re consuming too much caffeine or alcohol or if you’re depressed, and you just kind of want to gauge like, ‘Is this me? Do I fit this this mold of being depressed or consuming too much alcohol?’ Or they can kind of just go on there and get a feel for it.”

Support in the darkest moments

Senior Chaplain Jesse Kenyon, who is part of the wellness unit, pointed out the importance of getting peer support while working together in the process of building out wellness.

“God forbid we have another day like Jimmy; we needed help on that day,” Kenyon said.

Stockton Police Officer Jimmy Inn was fatally shot while responding to a domestic disturbance call on May 11, 2021.

Kenyon added that the department, through the wellness unit, aimed to repair partnerships as it builds out wellness.

Senior Chaplain Jesse Kenyon checks his blood pressure at a self-testing kiosk inside the new Organizational Wellness Center. Kenyon said the center’s support services are critical for police officers during their worst moments, such as the loss of a colleague in the line of duty. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Among those attending the Feb. 22 event celebrating the wellness unit was Eric Jones, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Sea Valor. Jones is the captain of Valor, a 1989 56-foot sailboat, and welcomes all who struggle with post-traumatic stress. His nonprofit offers sailing and other ocean-themed programs to help veterans, firefighters, health care workers, law enforcement, at-risk youth, families of those affected by suicide and more.

“God forbid we have another day like Jimmy; we needed help on that day.”

Jesse Kenyon, Stockton Police Department Senior Chaplain

“We took out the wife and kids of Jimmy, the officer that was killed two years ago,” Jones said. “They had a great time.”

Jones’ Sea Valor has started offering wellness sailing trips to Stockton police officers free of charge.

A framed message offers words of encouragement at the Organizational Wellness Center at the Stockton Police Department Operation Building in Stockton. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

“On the last Wednesday of every month will be just Stockton PD on the boat,” Jones said. “So up to 40 people or so from Stockton PD can … come sailing for four or five hours.”

Jones further added that the boat would go to Angel Island and then out underneath the Golden Gate Bridge into the ocean and around Alcatraz Island in San Francisco and some of the other bridges.

Harika Maddala is a photojournalist based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. They are a Report for America corps member and a CatchLight Local Fellow.