In November 2013, the Oregon City Police Department lost an officer in the line of duty. That hadn’t happened in more than 100 years. As the new police chief in the small Oregon community, Jim Brand recognized the need to help the department cope with the loss of Reserve Officer Robert Libke, who was fatally shot after responding to reports of an armed man near a house on fire.
In a rare quiet moment during a stressful day, Brand sat down at his desk and could feel weights dropping in the gym, so he wandered over to observe. What he saw was therapy in action.
“I see all these faces who had just been carrying the weight of the world for the last couple days. They had just finished some WOD, and I could just see their faces they were so much better,” Brand says.
The chief tells Greg Amundson, CrossFit’s Law Enforcement Liaison, all the money, time and effort put into CrossFit 1850 was worth it after seeing its effects on members who were dealing with the devastating loss of a colleague.
The affiliate has been active since 2011, and it was created because “the ability for our employees to combat the overwhelming stresses of police work through exercise is paramount,” according to a 2012 press release.
Now, Brand coaches several classes filled with police officers, lawyers and others who work for and with the police department.
“In the law-enforcement world, we deal with a lot of very stressful things,” says member Colleen Gilmartin. “My work is all child abuse, and coming in here and being able to get that all out and in a very friendly and competitive environment is wonderful.”
Video by Ian Wittenber.
Additional reading: “Face the Fear: Lessons From Newtown” by Hilary Achauer, published Jan. 25, 2013.