Calif. set aside $50M for officer wellness. How PDs across the state used their part By:

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By Ariane LangeThe Sacramento Bee

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The state legislature earmarked $50 million in the 2022 budget for “officer wellness” programs, with an eye toward improving the mental health of police, and documents show law enforcement has been spending that money on items that range from gym equipment to saunas and Himalayan salt.

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In response to a California Public Records Act request, the Board of State and Community Corrections released the reports submitted by law enforcement agencies describing how they began to spend the money. The Sacramento Bee is publishing those documents for the public to review spending of local law enforcement agencies.

Though each department received a relatively small sum, the total — $50 million — is a large chunk of taxpayer money.

The grant administrators instructed police to spend the funds on “officer wellness units,” peer support, counseling by a licensed mental health professional or other law-enforcement-focused professional, multiagency mutual aid programs focused on wellness and mental health, or “other programs and services that are evidence based or have a successful track record of enhancing officer wellness.”

Some police and sheriff’s departments appeared to spend in the “other programs and services” category.

A review of the documents shows that many police agencies purchased exercise equipment and made improvements to gym facilities. The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office spent much of its $24,963.55 on a 24/7 on-site gym. The Upland Police Department spent $42,635 updating its gym, which was “dilapidated.” The Willits Police Department planned to use funds on new gym equipment and, like many other departments, a subscription to a wellness app designed for police: Cordico.

Other departments chose more offbeat ways to use the money. The Yuba City Police Department put some of its $1,328 toward out-of-work social events and an “emotional support service animal,” an adopted bunny named Officer Percy. The Woodland Police Department spent $30,904 on new gym equipment as well as “cryotherapy items,” and remodeled their breakroom and kitchen and built a new patio.

The Atherton Police Department paid for the Cordico app and the therapy app Better Help; the department also spent some of the $13,363 on a “zen den” with “a recliner for massage and mental health relief.” The Calaveras Sheriff’s Office used $23,982 to purchase gym equipment, stress balls and neck wraps. The office also invested in coffee makers and water coolers: “The goal is to help Deputies with drinking less energy drinks.”

The Amador County Sheriff’s Office used $26,305 to pay for a fitness trainer, online- and phone-based crisis counseling and lifestyle coaching, and “hormone optimization efforts.”

In the capital region, certain law enforcement agencies leaned even further into alternative wellness. The Citrus Heights Police Department planned to purchase two $8,000 infrared saunas and $1,500 worth of Himalayan salt. The Rocklin Police Department spent $548 on a business that provided access to yoga, meditation, massage therapy, “breath work” and infrared saunas

The Bee filed its public records request after the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office received a green light in December to spend $158,000 between December 2023 and December 2024 on “alternative wellness” treatments including cryotherapy, a “Theta Chamber” that was said to treat PTSD and addiction by manipulating brain waves, “Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation,” as well as sessions in a “Hyperbaric HyperCube.”

A spokesman for the sheriff did not respond to questions about whether these services were evidence-based or had a proven track record, as stipulated by the state grant protocols. Joe Schwarcz, director of the McGill University Office for Science and Society, reviewed the services and said their healing claims were “nonsense heaped upon nonsense.”

The grant spending by the sheriff’s office was approved by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors through the consent calendar at the Dec. 5, 2023 meeting. There was no public discussion.

Check out the database of documents to see how your local police are spending the money.

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