Lawmakers and mental health professionals are teaming up to provide trauma support to Capitol Police and civilian staff following the January 6 chaotic riot.
Dr. Jim Gordon of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., immediately offered his support after the event.
According to an NPR report, Gordon reached out to long-time friend Tim Ryan – Ohio Democrat Rep – to ask if he could help. Ryan responded within 10 minutes, “Yes.”
Gordon is the author of Transforming Trauma and Mindful Nation, which teaches his programs for healing trauma and mindfulness. He has also set up healing programs around the world – in Kosovo, Haiti and Parkland Fla. – to respond to war, natural disasters and shootings.
The Capitol Police program, paid for by a mix of legislative funds appropriated by Congress and pro bono work by Gordon, will provide focus groups, workshops and other efforts to teach meditation techniques and breathing techniques to alleviate mental stress.
According the report, the program is a response to the two attacks near the Capitol – the riot and the car attack – which left several officers dead and many wounded in total, as well as a suicide that occurred days after.
Ryan, who chairs the House Appropriations subpanel that oversees the force, said that the program is intended to be a long-term commitment with the agency.
“This needs to be a long-term commitment to the rank-and-file members of the Capitol Police force. This is not some magic wand. This isn’t a couple of prescription drugs. This is something that is going to transform the men and women of the Capitol Police force and therefore transform the Capitol Police.”
Gordon has also worked with police departments in other areas of the country, but said that with all of the changes going on with the Capitol Police, things are moving quicker than usual.
“Here it’s happening quickly. Because the commitment is so strong, it’s moving faster at this point and that will make it easier for us to make what we have to offer part of the culture of the Capitol Police,” he said.
So far, Gordon’s focus groups have attended to more than 80 officers. Each meeting lasts 2.5 hours or longer, with participants taking turns talking and sharing techniques.
Gordon hopes that the program is having a positive impact. He recalled a 20-year veteran who sat in silence with arms crossed.
“He nods his head and he says, ‘You know, I’m not somebody who shows anything. And you know, you see me here, you don’t see much expression on my face, but I’m feeling everything you guys are feeling,’ ” Gordon recalled.
That officer said he’s proud of their work protecting members of Congress on Jan. 6, but is having trouble sleeping, and still feels the pain and anxiety from that day.
Gordon says the center will also host more extensive workshops with other coping mechanisms for officers, from dancing to drawing. The plan is to train 40 ambassadors on the force to continue the teachings.