‘Hearts and minds’ of Rangely force focus of new services

Rangely Police Chief Ti Hamblin (left) has been working to obtain mental health help for Rangely Police Department employees through the “Heart and Mind Initiative”. This includes anonymous psychological services to better help officers and dispatchers cope with the inherent trauma of the job and the addition of police chaplain Jasper Whiston (right).

RBC | Ti Hamblin, Chief of Police in Rangely, was interviewed for this article.

When appointed Chief of Police for the Town of Rangely, Colorado, Chief Hamblin set a goal to acquire a great staff that worked together for the betterment of the community. To quote Chief Hamblin directly, “I want to make sure the citizens of Rangely have the best officers and dispatchers in the state, who are ready to help them in their time of need.”

Over the past two years a new staff was hired and the goal of making sure they had the best tools available, and were successful at their jobs, became extremely important in accomplishing this goal. Generally, law enforcement is provided with the best equipment money can buy. They are taught and encouraged to take care of themselves physically, wherein gym memberships are paid for and healthy eating is encouraged.

However, taking care of law enforcement’s “hearts and minds” was never really promoted, which is also very important considering they are trained to handle the most difficult of situations, often where residents are having the worst day of their lives. That trauma is not only experienced by the person going through it but by the officers, dispatchers and other first responders. Over time the officers and dispatchers carry a lot of that trauma with them to the next call.

“As their Chief, I realized I needed to make sure the officers and dispatchers responding to help others in the community needed to be OK mentally. This started what I have dubbed my ‘Heart and Mind Initiative,’” Hamblin said.
Through the support of Town Manager Lisa Piering, Chief Hamblin was successful in obtaining anonymous psychological services for the Rangely Police Department employees through Brower Psychological in Denver. Any member of the Rangely Police Department can reach out for psychological help at any time, for any reason and it would be completely anonymous. This would allow the stigma of asking for help to disappear. This is a way to make sure “the mind” of the officers and dispatchers are clear and ready to help those in need.

Officer Jesse Leech (left) recently received a letter of commendation from fellow officer Lieutenant Dallas Coker (right) for his professional response to a difficult situation. All RPD employees are eligible for services.

Additionally, Pastor Jasper Whiston was brought on board as the Rangely Police Department’s first Police Chaplain. Pastor Whiston is a person of faith that all employees of the Rangely Police Department can speak to at any time for any reason. They do not have to wait for a traumatic event before speaking to Pastor Whiston. Bringing Pastor Whiston on board is a way the department makes sure “the heart” of our first responders are clear and ready to help those in need.

Chief Hamblin also mentioned Officer Leech during the conversation. Leech recently received a letter of commendation from fellow officer Lieutenant Coker for his professional response to a very difficult situation.