Chief Ryan Johansen & Ret. Lt. Chris Orrey (Part 2) – Buddhas in Blue: Enlightened Ways to Make Policing Work For Everyone 

Chief Ryan Johansen Chris Orrey Integral Policing

In this moving, illuminating, and impassioned discussion, retired Police Lt. Chris Orrey and San Bruno Police Chief Ryan Johansen open our eyes as to the realities of policing in today’s world and offer solutions as to how the entire institution of police work could be transformed to become more effective and sustainable, both for police officers and for the communities they serve. Ryan and Chris explain that applying an Integral approach to police work—which BTW encompasses a lot more than simply law enforcement, to include the roles of social worker, mental health counselor, EMT, and more, in crisis situations—is exactly what is needed to turn around an institution that is controversial and flailing at this point. They point out that it is essential to prioritize officer wellness—not just physical wellness but interior wellness as well—and give officers the coping mechanisms and support they need to integrate the inevitable trauma of the job and role model resilience for the victims and survivors they interact with. An Integral understanding also paves the way for police leadership to become servant-based; where leadership puts the welfare of the officers first and foremost, and in turn, officers are in peak condition, mentally, physically, emotionally, to serve and protect their communities with compassion and skill.

Nationwide, it is a time of catastrophic crisis in police recruitment and retention. Most departments are severely understaffed and morale is at a dangerous low. Chief Ryan’s San Bruno police department, however, is fully staffed and the officers have high morale. By applying the principles of the Integral Model and practicing a heartfelt, servant-based leadership style, Ryan has turned this national trend around. Whether policing impacts you directly or not, there is much to be gained by listening to this stirring conversation, which reveals so much about the realities of our society and the incredible courage, compassion, and outright nobility it takes to be a police officer—putting your life on the line to protect and serve others every single day. Recorded July 6, 2023.

“I think that most police officers are exceptional human beings in that they are willing to endure tremendous suffering on behalf of others, most of whom they don’t know and will never actually get to know, and many of whom a lot of society has simply decided to bypass and would prefer to not even see.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • The pendulum swing of society’s opinions about cops and the story of Isaac Woodard (01:26)
  • We can’t ignore what communities have suffered at the hands of police officers—historically and currently (04:58)
  • What would Ryan do to make things better for officers? Focus on legitimately taking better care of cops (06:24)
  • What the pendulum swing is doing today: the middle way is the right way (07:44)
  • The developmental levels aspect of the Integral model holds great promise for policing (09:22)
  • The expectation of officers to check their whole identity/personality at the door and California’s allowance of tattoos and other physical details (15:45)
  • How do we help a community see cops as people like them? Overcoming the us vs. them mentality (17:45)
  • How to develop officers as exceptional people who will show up? (19:42)
  • If cops internalize the idea that their paramount purpose is to defend and protect human life, it will help them make the right split-second decision (22:13)
  • We as individuals project everything from our personal traumas, relationship to authority figures, etc. onto police officers (26:52)
  • Conveying to cops that their fundamental role is to protect people at all developmental levels— that’s what makes being a cop so noble (29:23)
  • Bringing the Integral understanding to cops can make an enormous difference to both police officers and communities (31:13)
  • The current catastrophic recruitment & retention crisis is pushing cops we do have out and deterring new officers (33:37)
  • How do Chris and Ryan nurture themselves in this process? (36:24)
  • Setting the example and prioritizing wellness practices—they are part of cops’ service (38:40)
  • The importance and effectiveness of Integral Life Practice: practicing with iAwake Technologies’ brainwave entraining audio tracks, biofeedback & HRV regulation (41:04)

Resources & References – Part 2

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Chief Ryan Johansen Integral Policing

Ryan Johansen currently serves as the Chief of Police for the City of San Bruno, California, a diverse community of approximately 50,000 residents located amid the urban sprawl of the San Francisco Bay Area. Ryan has been a policing professional for approximately 20 years, beginning his career as a patrol officer with the Southeastern Division of the San Diego Police Department. Ryan transferred to the San Bruno Police Department in 2006, and in the years that followed, he has served in a variety of positions and assignments, including: Police Chief, Incident Commander, Tactical Commander, Field Services Division Lieutenant, Administrative Division Lieutenant, Watch Commander, Public Information Officer, Traffic Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, Detective Corporal, Gang Unit Supervisor, Patrol Corporal, and Patrol Officer. Ryan served as the Investigations Commander for the San Bruno Gas Pipeline Explosion in 2008, the Incident Commander for the YouTube Active Shooter Incident in 2018, and the Tactical Commander for the Tanforan Mall Active Shooter Incident in 2019. 

Ryan has a longstanding meditation and contemplative practice and is a certified mindfulness meditation instructor. He serves as Vice President of the San Mateo County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association and is on the Board of the CA Police Chiefs Association. He has provided training in officer wellness, police culture, active assailant prevention and response, and public/private partnership in critical incident response all over the United States. Ryan possesses a Bachelor of Applied Sciences Degree in Law Enforcement Management, and he is currently enrolled in the Masters of Homeland Defense and Security Program at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

Retired police Lt. Chris Orrey, Integral Policing

Chris Orrey is a retired police lieutenant with over 30 years of service with the Hayward, California Police Department. She is a graduate of California’s Command College, an 18-month program designed to prepare law enforcement leaders for the challenges of the future, and the LAPD Leadership Training Program, which is based on the West Point Leadership Program. In true Integral fashion, she will soon have a Master’s Degree in Comparative Religion and Philosophy and will be continuing her education at the California Institute for Human Science, pursuing a doctorate degree in Integral Noetic Sciences with an emphasis on Wisdom Design. Her Master’s thesis is on the application of Wilberian Integral Theory to U.S. policing and is titled “Integral Policing: Transforming U.S. Policing via the AQAL Map.”

Chris is also a blackbelt in kajukenbo-style karate and an ordained minister of A Course in Miracles. She lives in San Francisco, California.

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

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