California Sets Aside $50 Million for Officer Health: How PDs Across the State Used Their Share

By Ariane Lange
Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The state has earmarked $50 million in its fiscal 2022 budget for “officer wellness” programs aimed at improving the mental health of officers. Documents show law enforcement agencies spent the money on everything from exercise equipment to saunas to Himalayan salt.

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In response to a California Public Records Act request, the Board of State and Community Corrections released reports filed by law enforcement agencies detailing how they began spending the money. The Sacramento Bee is publishing these documents to enable the public to familiarize themselves with the expenditure local law enforcement agencies.

While each department received a relatively small sum, the total amount — $50 million — is a significant amount of taxpayer money.

Grant Administrators he ordered the police to issue these funds “officer wellness units,” peer support, counseling with a licensed mental health or other law enforcement professional, interagency mutual aid programs focused on wellness and mental health, or “other programs and services that are evidence-based or have a demonstrated history of improving officer wellness.”

Some police and sheriff’s departments spent money in the “other programs and services” category.

A review of records shows that many police agencies have purchased exercise equipment and upgraded their facilities. The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office spent a significant portion of its $24,963.55 on an on-site, 24-hour gym. The Upland Police Department spent $42,635 to upgrade its gym, which was “in disrepair.” The Willits Police Department planned to use the funds for new exercise equipment and, like many other departments, a subscription to a wellness app designed for police: Cordico.

Other departments have chosen more unusual uses for the money. The Yuba City Police Department used some of its $1,328 to pay for social events for the unemployed and an “emotional support animal,” an adopted rabbit named Officer PercyThe Woodland Police Department spent $30,904 on new exercise equipment as well as “cryotherapy supplies,” remodeled the break room and kitchen, and built a new patio.

The Atherton Police Department paid for the app Cordico and the therapy app Better Help; the department also spent some of the $13,363 on a “zen den” with a “massage and mental health relief chair.” The Calaveras Sheriff’s Office spent $23,982 on exercise equipment, stress balls and neck braces. The office also invested in coffee machines and water dispensers: “The goal is to help deputies drink fewer energy drinks.”

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

In the Capital Region, some law enforcement agencies have gone even further into alternative wellness. The Citrus Heights Police Department planned to buy two infrared saunas for $8,000 and a Himalayan salt sauna for $1,500. The Rocklin Police Department spent $548 on a business that offered yoga, meditation, therapeutic massage, “breathwork” and infrared saunas

Bee filed the public records request after the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office received the green light in December to spend $158,000 between December 2023 and December 2024 on “alternative treatments,” including cryotherapy, a “Theta chamber” that was supposed to treat PTSD and addiction by manipulating brain waves, “repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation” and sessions in a “hyperbaric cube.”

A sheriff’s spokesman did not respond to questions about whether the services were evidence-based or had a track record, according to state grant protocols. Joe Schwarcz, director of the McGill University Office for Science and Society, reviewed the services and said their claims of healing were “nonsense piled on top of nonsense.”

The Sheriff’s Office grant expenditures were approved by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors via a consent calendar at its December 5, 2023 meeting. There was no public discussion.

Check document database to see how local police spend their money.

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