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Eastern police recognized for commitment to officer wellness

Published on October 11, 2023

Eastern police recognized for commitment to officer wellness

group photo
Members of Eastern's Department of Public Safety gather for a photo with the Serve Well, Be Well award.

The Eastern Connecticut State University Police Department has won recognition for its commitment to maintaining wellness in its staff members. The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) on Oct. 4 presented its Serve Well, Be Well Award to Chief Stephen Tavares.

Tavares, entering his third year as Eastern’s chief of police, has made a point of getting to know his staff. He said that knowing one another is vital to being able to provide support when it is needed.

This type of support helps maintain a work-life balance in public safety staff at Eastern. Often, a staff member will need a day off to attend to personal or family matters. “That goes with people’s wellness,” said Tavares.

award wording“People need breaks. People need mental time off with their families, hobbies; those are all things we need to stay centered and keep our status quo.”

The greatest challenge in maintaining equilibrium in his staff is posed by staff shortages. “Full staffing allows our folks to have normal days off,” he said.

Tavares looks to maintain a family-like connection among members of his staff. He said that like any family, his staff members get into minor arguments but, more importantly, can get through them by remaining committed to each other’s wellness.

“If we stay centered as a family on everybody’s wellness and well-being, we can get through our little spats,” he said.

Open communication is a not-so-secret ingredient in Tavares’ recipe for wellness in his staff. “If we don’t have open communication, things fester,” he said. “That affects people’s work performance, love for the job and wanting to be there.”

Tavares is committed to a staff wellness initiative that is real rather than superficial. “Making things meaningful and genuine, those are the challenges to make sure you’re pointing to things that you think will really help (people around you) in their lives and their careers.

“Being part of Serve Well, Be Well is a giant step toward our legitimacy of being genuine and really caring about the wellness of our employees,” he said.

As far as earning the award is concerned, Tavares takes little of the credit himself. The police department at Eastern was “well put together when I got here,” and Tavares could see that the people within the organization “care about each other, work hard for each other and look out for each other.”

While humble, Tavares is appreciative of the department’s recognition. “It’s a great honor,” he said, “and it’s something important to achieve in your early years because these are the years when I’m showing people exactly who I am and what I believe in.”

Written by Noel Teter