Feb. 16, 2022

Can We Fix The Divide Between Police and Communities Of Color? Erica Gaines

In this episode, I have the CEO and founder of TacMobility, an organization whose vision is to heal the divide between police officers and communities of color by focusing on the health and wellness of officers. We will dive down into what it takes for an officer to recover from stress, lower their hypervigilance and move into a place of wellness in which they can thrive.


In this episode, I have the CEO and founder of TacMobility, an organization whose vision is to heal the divide between police officers and communities of color by focusing on the health and wellness of officers. We will dive down into what it takes for an officer to recover from stress, lower their hypervigilance and move into a place of wellness in which they can thrive.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Why yoga is not just for women only;
  • Why recovery is not optional, it's mandatory;
  • The importance of holistic wellness;
  • How to retire happily;
  • What is neuroplasticity;
  • Can we fix the gap between Blue Lives and Black Lives; and
  • Many more!


Email: erica@tacmobility.net
Website: https://tacmobility.org
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tacmobility/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tacmobilityaz
Youtube: https://www.youtube.c

Transcript

https://tacmobility.org/Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of Enduring the Badge Podcast. I'm your host Jerry Dean Lund, and I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode. So please hit that subscribe button. And while your phone’s out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. It says, Hey, this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people. So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review. And just maybe by doing that, it will push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message. 

 

Today on this episode, I have the CEO and founder of TacMobility, an organization whose vision is to heal the divide between police officers and communities of color by focusing on the health and wellness of officers. We’re also gonna dive down into what it takes for an officer to recover from stress, and lower their hyper vigilance and move into a place of wellness in which they can thrive. Now let's jump right into this episode with Erica Gaines. 

 

 

How you doing Erica? 

 

Doing well. Thank you. 

 

Good, good.  I'm so excited to dive into your business and probably your business really probably pours out into your life I would imagine from what you're doing.

 

It's Yes. And I probably need to have better balance with that. Yes, it's it's all it's an always thing. Yeah,

 

Yeah. Definitely understand that. Tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

 

Um, well, my name is Erica. We just discovered it's not Erica Chadwick anymore. It's a Erica Gaines. Um, yeah, so I am the CEO and founder of Tacmobility controlling the mind and machine. And it's a resiliency training program that I created for law enforcement. And I created it as, as a way to sort of help with a lot of the kind of like social divides that are happening in our country that have been happening for a long time. Um, just as an effort to go, Hey, police are doing this extraordinary job in which it has impacted them greatly. Mentally, physically, which, therefore impacts their desire to want to show up in the ways that the country is like, demanding them to show up. And so it's like, well, if we want to create, you know, kind of more cohesive relationships, we have to make sure that everybody feels up to it in the first place. So that was kind of how I got started is like, Well, my friends feel like shit, like, do they want to? Like, how much more do you want from them?

 

Right, right. I really like that. Did you have friends that are in the in the law enforcement and stuff like that?

 

Yeah. So I started, I started in the industry, as like an exhibitor going to different conferences, and a lot of the other vendors are retired law enforcement, fire, EMS, all the things. Um, and so I really got to know over the years, just, you're very average police officer, I guess. And then my, my partner is also a trooper, so it's, it's kind of always been around. Well, it's been around me for the last almost 10 years. So I've just become friends with people. And I've recognized Hey, there's this gap happening in terms of like, people's physical wellness, and, and I think that a lot of times people think about like physical fitness and know, like, people's bodies are not being cared for in the way that let's say the average civilian, you know, will take care of their body, like I come from a yoga background. So I'm like, Oh my gosh, like, we need to, like, take care of our mind in our body. And we need to, we need self love and all these things. And it's like, there's this gap, because that world just seems so counter to the experience of a police officer, like, right, believing that everybody is out, you know, trying to do their best and on their best behavior is counter to the police experience. So it was just recognizing that well, police officers need self care to what does that look like for them? So? Yeah, 

 

Yeah. I like so you were as an exhibitor you started to notice like the the gap and maybe the lack of of care, like that perspective of being not tied to it didn't have any at that time, no direct connections to law enforcement at that time.

 

Um, well, so my ex husband in in our family, there were two police officers. So And what's really interesting is I got along with really everybody, except for these two individuals were very brash. If that's if that's the that's a good word. and based on my experience, that's pretty consistent. But it was kind of like they just like, didn't really let anybody in and we would randomly hear these stories about, like, you know, one of them, you know, was held at gunpoint. And the other one same thing, like all these stories, but you know, I wasn't privy to what that looked like inside of their home. So he kind of had that, that in the background. And then the more that I hung out with people in a conference setting, which if you've ever attended one, yeah, yeah. I mean, you play hard. I really got to experience what people's coping skills looked like. And it looks like just drinking a lot. And I was like, Well, okay, that that works ish. But like, what's going on? Like, why do you need this much alcohol? Why are you playing this hard? Like, what's going on? And then that's when I really started hearing a lot of the stories and it was like, you saw that or like, you went through that just? Yeah. And countless knee replacements and bionic arms and steel rods and steel plates, and just immobility and going like, oh, my gosh, like you guys, like who's looking after you like, your quarter?

 

Right, right. There's a lot of bodies that get wrecked in this as a first responder. And I think I think you're right, a big an easy way to, I don't wanna say handle it, cope with it, or whatever is, is drinking, and play and playing hard. That type of way, which is a slippery slope, right? It's not, it's not a cure by any means.

 

It's not a cure. It's not a cure, it is a coping skill. That's, and that's so so that being said, like coping skills all have their places, but anything in excess is no good. And that was what I witnessed a lot. And it wasn't like, in a judgmental way. Like, I definitely have played, I have played a lot. Um, but it was just, I was recognizing that the reason that everyone was going so hard is because of the magnitude of what they were seeing and how it was impacting their bodies. And so, you know, my solution was like, yoga, let's do tactical yoga. And they're like, um, we see what you're trying to do by throwing tactical in front of it. Yeah. Yoga. Okay, thank you.

 

Yeah, but yoga is becoming so popular, as a, do I say modality to deal with this?

 

Yeah, I definitely think so. Yoga is I mean, I, I have been practicing yoga for, like 17 years. So I recognize the, like, major benefits of it. I mean, it is an ancient practice. And I'm also a certified yoga instructor. So I know the benefits of it, I have always been for it. But I also recognize that it's not for everyone. So I kind of had to take my love for the people that I had, you know, been in relationship with my background and education and see how I could get those lines to kind of intersect. And that was when I recognized if we take the philosophies out of yoga, or the more feminine, like visual components out of it. Really, the focus is helping people recognize how your spiritual interactions, which the work that you do, interacting with people's traumas and their generational issues, this is spiritual stuff, it's going to impact your body, it's going to impact how you feel. And then, you know, it's really about stretching and metabolizing your stress hormones and becoming aware of what your body is doing and how it feels. So if I can take all of that, and I could kind of marry that with all of the culture that I had become so familiar with. I wonder what I could create. And that's when I created TacMobility, which is the focus is on like myofascial like release techniques, stretching, nervous system regulation, things that are necessary, but without these kind of like foreign components that are just that just seem so contrary to the police experience and culture.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'STRETCH UR A*S *S Hypervigilance Check'

Yeah, I think most people have listened to a few episodes of this and they find that yoga is becoming in a lot of our conversations is, is coming up and it's not intentional. We're not looking for people that do you know, do yoga or anything like that it's just becoming more and more popular as the way to go to do you know, the stretching the metabolizing the breath work, it's like, it's, it's been the it's like the key that's and people are starting to see the key that is needed to use it. So I like I'm locked themselves to do it.

 

Yeah, I mean, it's, it's really about holistic wellness, where it's going, you can't the days of thinking that our minds and our bodies are separate like that our environments, and our emotions don't impact our bodies. This week, there's too much science, there's too much research that's been done, to be able to keep those things separate in the same ways that like, you can't keep your work life out of your home life, you can try and people have for a really long time. But if we look at what relationship statistics look like, within the law enforcement community, we're now seeing that there isn't a way to separate that type of, like, difficult emotional experience, and, and everything else that everything is one. And so yoga is really one of those practices that have that, like they have their shit together. Like it's kind of all in one package. versus you know, if you're just going to go do a hiit workout, you know, you're you're going in there and you're grinding. So, yeah.

 

Yeah. I love that you brought up the science of like, how our bodies and minds are connected, and how I feel like we store emotions within our body that causes other types of trauma, or we store that or trauma in our body. I mean, how do you feel about that?

 

Yeah, that's exactly how it works.

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And the course our company really kind of shows that science aspect of it. You know, I think it's something that people intuitively recognize, or you know, after a really long day, why does your back feel so tense? Like, is it just your tactical vest? Because if you take it off, like does that tension still exist? So I think that people intuitively know that the job impacts them. But I really feel that understanding how when your brain senses threat, it triggers this entire chemical reaction which those chemicals influence how your muscles work, if you're if you're not feeling safe, well, your body has to be ready, it has to be ready to run it has to be ready to protect itself. And when you spend such a significant amount of your week, your month, your years, being on edge being prepared and ready. Your body really is out of practice on how to just relax and enjoy your the rest of your life. And that's really what I wanted to offer my friends is like, I don't really care if you do yoga, I don't care if you do jujitsu, I don't care what modality you choose, you have to realize that, you know, one of the sayings I have is recovery is no longer optional. Like it's mandatory because you deserve to love your life. And no one should have to spend an hour or two hours after their shift just trying to calm down like you're not getting paid for that. Right $0 are coming from anywhere you're taking away from your family experience, your friends alone time, whatever. We should figure out some different tricks, different ways to hack into the body so that you can feel better.

 

Yeah, I um, we think a lot alike, I love that. Go ahead.

Well, so coming from my outside perspective and not having a lot of trauma exposure. I am happy so much of my day and I spent a significant amount of time that people like me would be traveling for like days at a time and to see kind of like this like glitter you know this like furrowed brow look or just like this very pensive, like demeanor and then the only time that they were really happy and carefree. Is it People were drinking, but then they would go too hard and then spend, you know, the next day, the first three hours being hungover, then to do it all over again. Like, that's not living. That's the existing. Yeah. Yeah. And that's not I don't think that that's what anybody had in mind when they signed up to protect people.

 

Right? Right. It's just so hard sometimes to just be able to separate the life and work balance. Nice. And I, you know, I see that creep into my own life, you know, it's a constant practice to like, stop and realize, like, things that happen at work, or that I take home, or there's some in my attitude that comes out in, you know, in my relationships, relationships with your wife, your spouse, whatever your kids, like, all those things creep into your lives, even if you're just trying to deal with it. But for those who are not even considering dealing with it yet. That's why I think we get into where divorce comes in. And all these other, you know, like drinking and all these other excessive things that first responders do to try to not take care of themselves, I guess sometimes. 

 

Well, in here, here's the thing, like, you have to feel. There's no, I don't know, at what point the message was related, and really, like, ingrained in people that like, if a child dies in your arms, you can't bring that home. What? If you, if you clean up a like fatal incident, No, you got to as soon as you got to keep it. Like, In what world? Outside, it only exists within a lot of first and secondary, like communities. And that's just not realistic. If something happens to me, I am, I'm forced, my body is forced to feel. It just it does. That's, that's part of the human experience. So to try and, you know, stop your body from having this normal physiological response, or these normal emotional responses, really is, you know, we're, we're seeing the effects of that we've we've, we've stunted the body's necessity to process emotionally, cognitively, our experiences, and when those experiences are traumatic in and large, in the rate in which you experience them. I mean, it's it's not before long before that catches up. And you said something about, like, impacting your relationships? You know, I don't think that I don't think that a lot of people in relationships in general. You know, we weren't really taught at least I wasn't, I wasn't taught about what it looks like to be a partner, I, I wasn't taught by my parents how to like, communicate until like, show up into, like, be there for each other, I was just like that picture of the relationship that I wanted, like, that was ingrained in me. So that's what I looked for. And I think that there's a lot of people that are in that same situation. So if you know you're a wife, or a partner of a first responder, you may not have the resources yourself to know how to help your partner process through a day. And so you have two people that are perhaps unaware of how to even go about that. And yeah, it makes a lot of sense.

 

Yeah. No, you're so true. I think you're you're talking about how we kind of like maybe shut down and stuff like that, if, you know, we have these traumatic incidents, but quite often, you know, as, you know, officers, they don't get the luxury of like, going through a traumatic incident and like, okay, you can go home, you know, now it's like, oh, you get to go to the next call. You know, and same thing with, you know, other first responders and stuff, they fall into that same category, like you can't, there's not the time to like debrief and relax. Don't say relax, but just to knock your level of adrenaline down and kind of comprehend what you just went through. It's like, oh, oh, there's got to go to that next call. So better bury that one.

 

You're spot on. Okay. So I remember going on a ride along um, and if there weren't any hot calls, I have the curse of the ride along and everybody does. Know, I have gone on like, multiple of them were like friends will come along and they get them and I don't. I think that it's like the universe's way of protecting my little heart. 

You can't Yeah, um, so I remember going on a ride along and it wasn't It wasn't there was nothing traumatic, like there wasn't anything, there was just sort of like your usual suspects, you know, people who are meth heads and all the things. So that was really my day. But there was like one point where we were investigating some vehicle that was like abandoned cars were passing. And so like that had happened, whatever, I get home, and it's like two o'clock in the morning. And I'm like, wow. And the first thing that my brain thought of was like, I'm gonna have a shot. Because I just needed to kind of just like, Yeah, I don't even know what I was looking for other than, like, I needed in a very fast way to like, calm everything down and sort of settle. Um, and so I was like, Okay, I'll take a shower. And the next day, I kind of played hooky with my schedule, and I did a lot of like meditations. I did my yoga practice, I kind of took my time with my day, because I was like me on that date that like, fuck me up and like, just it. And again, it wasn't trauma, it was just that I had been in such an arousal state for eight hours. Right. And it was in that moment that I realized, oh, wellness is a privilege, because it requires time. Yeah, yeah, it's true. You if I was a police officer, I and I was coming home to my kids, I would have about a five window gap to calm myself down enough to fall asleep in order for me to wake up so that I could take care of my family. And I'm going, Okay, well, maybe presenting my idea of wellness, that being yoga in my background, that that may not work, that may not work in just what it is to be a first responder and working overtime. So I'm like, Okay, I've got to get really creative with how I can help people like access this stuff if they only have a little bit of time. Right? Wild.

 

Yeah. And a lot of officers, right their schedules ares so. When you're working with shift work, and so all over the place, and trying to be with their families and show up for them. And I think sometimes maybe a thing to do, instead of maybe counting the hours that you're going to show up for them as maybe spend a little self care time a little bit before you spend time with your family. And then you're probably actually going to maximize the time that you're spending with your family. Otherwise, you're probably going to go in at a higher level of I don't know what you want to call it just anxiousness or just not being able to knock yourself down to truly enjoy the time that you have with them.

 

I think that that's a, I think that's a super smart idea. I also think that when you can understand the body's need to find regulation, then it's then you can start to really hack into that. So one of the things that we communicate to our students is that the body when it's in this arousal state, if you think about it being that gas pedal to your bodies, your body's survival system, it's this up state, your body naturally has to dip down low and in order to like conserve its energy. And that's part of that natural balancing system that your body has. So you have your fight or flight that really gets you aroused. And then you have your rest and digest that balances that. So if you can find ways to get your body more regulated, which is that rest and digest throughout your shift, then when you go home, you got to think about oh, okay, well, where am I baseline levels now, versus if you have spent 12 hours in a full arousal state, Well, you are, you have to dip really, really low. So that might mean that you completely shut down and you have to isolate yourself when you get home, just so you can feel normal. So if you're doing that more regularly throughout your shift, then you don't need to crash as hard, your body doesn't have that same need. So I think it's a mixture of taking care of your body through your shift in these really small ways. Like the breath is very impactful in terms of how your breathing communicates to your brain, hey, we might work, we're probably safe. If we're breathing in a consistent way. If our exhales are really really long, then the heart rate is going to slow down the production of these different hormones. So if we can do that, and then apply what you're saying is some intentional like self-care, whatever that looks like for you. Then yeah, you can show up like closer to that 100% I think everyone wants to get to.

 

Yeah. So the breath work is probably the easiest thing that we could do throughout our shift, to kind of deregulate ourselves between calls or between training or different types of things. And I know I find myself just, like, taking a few deep breaths, you know, especially if I'm going to, like, at the end of the day tried to go lay down before, I know, seems like we always get up at night lately. And so it's just like, you know, just try to like, calm down, just like intentionally breathe, you know, and relax.

 

Yeah, well, if you think about if your heart rate is completely steady, think about how much energy your body has to create in order for your heart rate to become elevated, right? So that energy is what is our hormones that are making your body do things. So if you can do these deep breaths, and slow down your heart rate, then your body stops, or slows down to production of those hormones, which ultimately start breaking down all of yourselves. Breathing is it's, it's kind of dumb, because it seems like really passive and almost like, like patronizing or just Yeah, it's counterintuitive, like, Oh, I'm having a really hard time, okay, I'll just do this really passive movement, like, yeah, it seems really dumb. But it's the freest most, like, easily accessible way for you to regulate your nervous system. In addition to man, you can just pop your foot right on your bumper and stretch out your hamstrings, or you can reach back and grab your foot and stretch out your quadriceps. Or you can do some hip circles to kind of alleviate some of that tension that happens when you're sitting. Like when your body is weighted down. So there are lots of different ways that you can achieve that regulation. But breathing is the easiest. It's just it's not what we think of when we think of getting your shit together.

What you need to know about heart rate | PhillyVoice

Right? Right. And, and it can be done anywhere.

 

Literally anywhere. And there's so many different techniques that do different things there are there's forms of breathwork, that can stimulate your body that can create, like, hallucinations, there are there's different breathwork some of the one of the ones that we do in our training is an alternate nostril breathing, which helps you switch from right and left brain, which, in my personal experience, it helps me get out of my thoughts, like when I just there's so many things that I have to do, and I just can't seem to land on one of them and do that this particular breathing techniques helps me to get out of my thoughts and go, Okay, I can get present what's what's one thing I can do, okay, we I think we just forget that when our bodies are in that arousal state, we just have less access to our thinking brain, which is where all of the smart shit happens. So if we can remember that, hey, I can do like 10 rounds of deep breathing, I'm more likely to be able to access the logic, which when I'm when I'm smart and calm, I can do anything.

Right. And you can do that in between calls. So you show up to the next call at your best self. Because if you're not doing the things like Erica's saying, we're just going to keep ratcheting ourselves up through the day probably. And then as the calls maybe increase or the, you know, maybe the natures of the call severity increase, you're not going to be showing up as you would like to be showing up.

Yeah, and I think that this is really this is the tricky line in and I recognize that I'm a civilian and so I have my perspectives. When you have like calls that are waiting and you're like it doesn't matter what you've gone through get to it, we have to recognize that it is a proactive step to be one minute late to a call and regulate yourself and show up ready to get some shit done versus you get there. Your mind is still reeling from the last thing and then you're showing up in a survival state which again means you have less logic centers that you're you have available are are you creating more of an issue for yourself? Are you creating more challenges for yourself because you're not showing up like you said as your best self or, you know, in your higher thinking. It's, it's the challenge of like, traumas are never going to stop. Yeah, but like you still deserve to feel like you're a human being driving a vehicle to the next call, versus like being completely dissociated. Yeah, driving 70 miles an hour while you're typing and shit. You have to, like, you deserve that, and the people that are waiting for you to respond, they also deserve that too. So I I think it's beneficial for everyone.

 

Yeah, Logic is the is the first responder's Best Friend Like, that is what we're going to use to solve. Majority of the problems is using that logic. And if it's, if you're not in your best state to have to use your logic, then you're going to probably react. And I feel like when we react to things, it's much harsher when we're reacting. What do you think?

 

I mean, yeah, absolutely. That goes for anybody. That's where the liability lies for everyone. That's the human experience, when you don't have enough education and practice of doing smart things, you don't do them when you're in an extraordinary situation. Like, when we're in training, I remind people, like learning how to breathe effectively is not something that you practice when you need it. You would not shoot your gun for the first time. When you're out in the field on like a hot call. That's not the time. Right, right. Oh, so when people don't use breathing, because it's not effective, it's like, Well, sure. How many breaths did you do? And how did you do it? How many times did you practice leading up to that? So it's got to be something that is, it's it's kind of like muscle memory, it's something that you have to work to develop, so that it becomes this automatic thing that your body starts doing, when it recognizes, oh, hey, we're in an arousal state, this is what we need to do. Okay, let's start doing it. And it starts working for you rather than against you.

Yeah, start creating those little habits before you actually need to jump into that situation, just like you're saying, I like that. I think maybe putting yourself a little note somewhere, depending on what you do, as a first responder, maybe just a simply one's looking says breathe, and you're like, oh, yeah, that's gonna trigger me into taking a few minutes to create this habit that I'm going to use when it's really stressful. I've talked to some other guests, and they're talking about, you know, some officers that are on extended long SWAT calls and trying to, you know, use some of the stuff that they learned in yoga to keep their mobility up while they're there and keep their breath work in track. So you're not, you know, you got this heightened state level, yeah, I get that. But then, if you can keep your breath in check, you're going to be more logical. And you're going to be able to tolerate being in those situations, like on a SWAT call, standing there for hours laying there for hours, depending on what your assignment is, in the heat, rain, cold snow.

 

Totally, and you have more access to information or the data that your body is offering you. So if you're, I don't know if maybe. So maybe one way to think about it is like if you're in a highly stressful situation, and you know, everyone hears the term like your gut, right? You're into your intuition, you from your gut, when you're in a highly stressful situation, you're less likely to hear that communication because your body is busy having these physiological reactions. So if you can sort of temper that reaction, then you have more access to what your body's telling you. You know, you have more body awareness of like, where my hands where my feet, what is where's my, the weight of my body? Is it for it? Is it backwards? If you have more of an awareness, you can pick up small details about people that you're observing. And really, in my interviews, in my experience, police work is in the details. Yeah, it's that intuition that guides people, so you don't want to lose that. And you will, if you don't have communication and open minded communication with your body, you've got to learn to own your body and make it work for you.

 

Right, right. Because your body wants to just, I feel like wants to live in those states just because we've never maybe as a first responder worked on how to lower it down it just your body naturally goes to those heightened states and wants to wants to live there. That's just that's just natural.

 

You become addicted. Yeah, yeah, it's true. Your body becomes an addicted sort of house like this. It's almost like there's like this ownership to it. So maybe the right word is dependent. Yeah, your body becomes dependent on these high arousal states, because that's where you feel alive. And who wouldn't want to feel that? And I think that if, if your highs are so high and your lows are so low, I think that it would be natural for anybody to fear anything outside of that really high state. But there's a lot of negatives that come with that high state, you know, one being just the breakdown of your body like indigestion, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, there's a lot of things that come with those high arousal states. And you kind of just have to figure out, like, how to balance things out.

Yeah, yeah, no, it totally makes sense. I think, as first responders, when we get into this field, we need to remember who we were, when we got in here and how like, and including who we were as like our bodies, like what, what was our body shape when we got into this profession? Our mind our, you know, maybe our spiller jollity like how was that when we got into this profession, because it gets lost along the way. And it's, and the longer you lose it, the harder it is, I feel to get back to it. So I mean, part of my goal is to remember how I came into this job, I've had a lot of growth since then. But I don't want to leave this profession broken. And I'm broken, could be physically and mentally broken.



I like that you bring up spirituality. I'm like, I think that we, I was actually listening to a podcast the other day with this PhD, who studies like social consciousness, or just our ability to access what they call your awakened brain, it's this center in your brain that lights up when you tap into spirituality, or just this understanding that we're kind of like one, you know, brotherhood, sisterhood, whatever, we're one family. And I think that that's really, that also is a privilege, you have to have time to consider those things. And you also have to have a lot of experiences to pull from, like, if you the experiences throughout your day have been just this small population of people that are really committed to function, you're gonna forget that there are so many beautiful, beautiful components to the world, and things that you can access and things that you can feel. And I feel like, that's got to be a major part of the breakdown of, you know, the first responder experiences like, you don't get very intentional to stay tethered to that you Yeah, it's easy to lose it, it seems.

 

Do you see between maybe like, then some of the younger people coming into law enforcement or into the first responder world, that they're more looking towards to find these tools? And the later generations are maybe having a hard time accepting those tools?

 

Yeah, but I think that it comes down to science and how we've just we've, we've learned so much over the last two decades, that you know, I think about my children, right, I have an eight year old daughter and her teacher sent out this email of how they're teaching the kids about high brain and low brain and how when you're in your emotion, brain, it's really hard to get logic and and, you know, they kind of dumb it down, but it's like, Oh, my God, my child, while her brain is still developing, she's being taught this stuff. So if you think about the fact that the brain is not fully developed until 25, and you've got 21 year old police officers, they've been learning this stuff. So it's wired into their brain to understand that it's never black and white, the world doesn't work like that. But a lot of tenured officers grew up in an era where that was the case, right? Like this whole you're gonna do what I say and like ask me tell that work to that. I don't know how well.

 

It works for some, it still works for some people.

 

So I think that it just has to do with where we are in terms of evolution and our brain when it's very difficult. So the term neuroplasticity. Have you heard that before? 

Yeah, yeah, no, it totally makes sense. I think, as first responders, when we get into this field, we need to remember who we were, when we got in here and how like, and including who we were as like our bodies, like what, what was our body shape when we got into this profession? Our mind our, you know, maybe our spiller jollity like how was that when we got into this profession, because it gets lost along the way. And it's, and the longer you lose it, the harder it is, I feel to get back to it. So I mean, part of my goal is to remember how I came into this job, I've had a lot of growth since then. But I don't want to leave this profession broken. And I'm broken, could be physically and mentally broken.



I like that you bring up spirituality. I'm like, I think that we, I was actually listening to a podcast the other day with this PhD, who studies like social consciousness, or just our ability to access what they call your awakened brain, it's this center in your brain that lights up when you tap into spirituality, or just this understanding that we're kind of like one, you know, brotherhood, sisterhood, whatever, we're one family. And I think that that's really, that also is a privilege, you have to have time to consider those things. And you also have to have a lot of experiences to pull from, like, if you the experiences throughout your day have been just this small population of people that are really committed to function, you're gonna forget that there are so many beautiful, beautiful components to the world, and things that you can access and things that you can feel. And I feel like, that's got to be a major part of the breakdown of, you know, the first responder experiences like, you don't get very intentional to stay tethered to that you Yeah, it's easy to lose it, it seems.

 

Do you see between maybe like, then some of the younger people coming into law enforcement or into the first responder world, that they're more looking towards to find these tools? And the later generations are maybe having a hard time accepting those tools?

 

Yeah, but I think that it comes down to science and how we've just we've, we've learned so much over the last two decades, that you know, I think about my children, right, I have an eight year old daughter and her teacher sent out this email of how they're teaching the kids about high brain and low brain and how when you're in your emotion, brain, it's really hard to get logic and and, you know, they kind of dumb it down, but it's like, Oh, my God, my child, while her brain is still developing, she's being taught this stuff. So if you think about the fact that the brain is not fully developed until 25, and you've got 21 year old police officers, they've been learning this stuff. So it's wired into their brain to understand that it's never black and white, the world doesn't work like that. But a lot of tenured officers grew up in an era where that was the case, right? Like this whole you're gonna do what I say and like ask me tell that work to that. I don't know how well.

 

It works for some, it still works for some people.

 

So I think that it just has to do with where we are in terms of evolution and our brain when it's very difficult. So the term neuroplasticity. Have you heard that before? 

 

Yeah, I love brain science. So yeah. Human brain activity with plexus lines.. External cerebral connections in the frontal lobe. Communication, psychology, artificial intelligence or AI, neuronal informations or cognition concepts illustration with copy space; blog: what is brain science

 

Okay, well, it becomes harder and harder and harder to experience neuroplasticity as you become older because your brain wants to do as little work as possible because you're constantly taking in new information. Yeah. So that's why creating new habits is even more difficult when you're older. So when you take an older generation, and you kind of like force, feed them all of this new stuff about brains, and then they have a long history of being traumatized. And in those arousal states or in those survival states, man, it's going to be incredibly difficult to get somebody to change how they view the world and themselves. I think that's just normal, that's to be expected not to be excused. But like, of course.

Yeah, no, that makes makes total sense. I think, you know, our brain just wants to go down the easy highway, constantly, constantly, just do the easy highway. And that's not not good for us to do that.

 

It's not, it requires so much work. And there's the like, I always try to visualize. So if you've me, of course, you guys have blocked roads off or there's like no traffic allowed. That's kind of what your brain does, when you want to do something that is different from what you've been doing. So there are these roadblocks, and we have the ability to remove those cones and to create this road. But you almost need somebody that's like guiding traffic going like No, no, come down, come down. Let's try this. Yeah, yeah, this is an option, the brain goes no look at, there's like five lanes of traffic right here. I don't want to go down that way. So it's it just it really comes down to if you can understand how your brain and your body work together. And sometimes against you, then you can become more of the driver, you can realize, okay, this is my biology working against me, what can I do? Okay, if I can regulate my nervous system, and I can get myself calm and feeling safer, then I will realize that this is an option. Okay, what's the next step that I need to do in order to follow this action? So we really just have to become more aware of what our bodies do. And in policing, it's just, there's been such a small focus on that stuff. It's been so much about procedure and policy and politics of repeats.

 

I mean, but if you, if you take care of some of those other needs, those three P's will get taken care of a lot, a lot easier.

That's right, because it's always proactive for you to show up, which again, this comes back to why I created this company is it's like we as a country are demanding that police officers be a certain type of person. Now, it's not enough for you to be a security, right, or enforcing laws, we now need you to help us work through our family issues, we now need you to assume that people are doing their best we need you to look at our histories and be compassionate, you aren't going to do all of those things. If you haven't had the training, if you don't have the time, and you don't have the awareness of when your body has switched between that survival and breath.

 

Right, right. Yeah, it makes perfect sense to me. And I hope it's making sense to other listeners out there. Sometimes you have to hear a lot of the same things over and over. And just like at training, you hear the same things over and over. And finally, oh, yeah, that really sets into you know, that makes sense to me when just using a different terminology or a different way of saying things. For me, my biggest change in my life came at a very critical moment when I was considering committing suicide. And I think part of the reason I love doing these podcasts is to stop you from getting to that low of a point and start implementing some of these other things. So you don't get to that low point and just feel broken and know where to go. You just have these tools to use to get yourself out of those lows cuz everybody's going to have highs and lows throughout their career, their day, their relationships. And you know, trying to make sure those low lows, yeah, there's stuff built there, there's tools there for help you when you're in those low lows. 

 

Yeah. I I had a social worker. Actually the way that she verbalized it made so much sense because it's something that I've started to actively do but once she said it, it connected so many things. She said I stopped thinking about my mental health, his feelings, and I started thinking of it as math. If one plus one equals two, then that means shitty day after shitty day equals what if I have a shitty day plus something that I enjoy doing? What Is that equal? So if, if our low, right if that if the bottom of the pit is where we contemplate life, and whether or not we want to continue, it took us one step. It's one shovel like, you know, it's one scoop after the other that get you that low. So you've got to, you've got to be very strategic and go, here's a list. So like, get intentional, open up your phone, open up your notes, write down every single thing that you know, makes you feel good. And this can be like small things. Like, if you drink two liters of water a day, that's one thing that's going to make you feel good because you're likely dehydrated and drinking a shit ton of caffeine, okay, or stretching or deep breathing or hugging or playing with an animal or going to the gym. Instead of going to the drive thru at a coffee shop, go in and let someone smile at you to figure out what those things are vacations, swimming. And when you start to feel your body going in that direction, which it will because that's the human experience. There are people committing suicide all over the globe that aren't first responders. This is the human experience. When you begin to feel that you go okay. How do I subtract? Okay, I have this, I add this, I add this and you and hopefully you have people in your life that you can ask to be accountable. Like I have, you know, my close friends that will text me like were you if your mental health today? And that is like okay, I'm going to go to the dry sauna. And I'm going to sit there for 15 minutes and listen to a meditation. Okay, cool. So you've got to like you, you have to realize that you don't get there for no reason. So how do you kind of trace your way back out? And I think that that is more accessible to people, I think that that sort of simplifies how to get better, versus the only way that I'm going to fix it is if I'm like, you know, an outpatient or inpatient treatment. And you know, I'm using my FMLA. Like, there's more to do before you get there.

 

Right. Yeah, build that toolbox, you know, ahead of time. Yeah, I think I was having a start when you're talking about sometimes, maybe some of these tools are thought as if you do them or use them that it's, it's weak. Or maybe even some people thinking, well, these are just feminine things I don't like, you know, I'm a man, I'm not going to go to the dry sauna, or, you know, some of these other things that you're saying, like, but you should, because it's cool, and it's actually relaxing, and you're doing something different, as easy as like, there's a dry sauna down, you know, in the next town, I'm gonna try this and check it out, try to do something new, try to get out of that comfort zone, not falling back into those. Now, there are good habits, and there are bad habits we fall into every single day.

 

I'd like it if you said that. I actually did. I had someone on my podcast a couple weeks ago, and we were talking about feminine and masculine. So rather than male female, we if you kind of switch the gears in your mind, every human that exists, embodies both feminine and masculine qualities. It does not mean male or female.Go ahead. 



No, just like, it's just like, I think don't people. A lot of people don't realize that.

 

Oh, yes. I mean, you know, that's a really good point. I appreciate that. Because in my world that is just like, it's just what we know. Like it's just yeah, 

 

Yeah, I agree with you. 


Yeah. So the way that I understand the differences between the two masculine is actionable, it is black and white beginning and end. And feminine, is fluidity, things that appear one way and maybe aren't or don't make sense, but do make sense if things that aren't that you can't like tack down. And we have the ability to do both, right, negotiating with as a negotiator that is a feminine energy if you're not, if you can't tack down a conversation. But if you have to clear a room you can so there's, you have the ability as a human to switch back and forth. And so you might have something that's a very masculine approach to your mental health. And that might look like well I can
go on a hike, there's, it's something I'm going to do, there's going to be a beginning and an end. Versus if you can sit and just feel your body and you can feel the wind, well, that's a more feminine approach to grounding your body, both of them do the same thing. They're just different approaches. So I think if we look at it from that perspective, versus being like, oh, that's girly, or whatever, that's, that's just peripheral. Like, we don't care about that.

 

men doing yoga

Yeah, got to get that out of your head, you know, just do like the thing. He said, there'll be times that I'm just like, running, you know, outside, and I'm just like, Damn this film, The when trying to like, look at the sun, look at you know, this, look at all these other, you know, beautiful things that are on my run. Plus, you know, listening to this, and some music, and maybe the, you know, it's just, like, enjoy all your senses, bring all your senses into your body. And that's, that's not male or female. Like, you know, really, that's not something you should worry about just like feel like you can easily. I can easily go on a run and not feel.

Right. And that's the power of approaching your body in a holistic way. It's not just how you take care of it. It's how you feel as well, like the, you know, your emotions you feel before you think. Feeling and thinking are two different things. Yeah. And a lot of times, we're like thinking about what's going on, we're not, we're not thinking about how we feel about it, we're thinking our thoughts. So we're constantly kind of doing both masculine and feminine at the same time. And it's really kind of like harnessing both of those and recognizing the benefits that both of those things do. Like when you're talking about sitting in the sun. Right? Your take, it's fluid, it feels good, but you're getting vitamin D, you're regulating your circadian rhythm, like you're doing all kinds of really important things. But it's not something that you can take down. Right. It's not measurable. But you know, it's effective. Right? Like, it's, anyone can possess it. It's there. We just don't understand it all the way.

male and female sides of the body Cinesomatics Drew Gerald

 

Yeah, I wanted to talk to you about Blue Lives and Black lives before I let you go. And some of your thoughts on that, man. I mean, that's, that's probably gonna have a whole another Podcast. I'm totally sure.

Cop behind 'His Life Matters' viral photo speaks out - Orlando Sentinel

I, you know, it's really interesting if I actually have someone actually just recently comment on something, so I did a post about like, I don't remember what all it said it was like, resiliency isn't about being the victim or something like that. I don't remember where it was. But someone who is I wouldn't say I don't know, if they're anti cop. I don't know how they would sort of identify themselves. But they took a post that I met just about, you know, a general concept of resiliency, and made a comment about some recent shooting that happened, I don't know the details of it. And talked about like, someone should have the right or the ability to interact with the cop without getting shot. And I was like, Whoa, I am talking about one thing, and you're talking about something completely different. It's such a highly emotionally charged conversation and topic in our country. Yeah. And I, I want, I think that we deserve as a country to kind of take the experiences from our history, and use that as a compass, we're where we want to go in order for us to be united. And that isn't happening, because we've sort of failed to understand that this is trauma that we're dealing with, and in the same ways that like, if you've ever had a fight with your spouse, and or like your it doesn't even matter who you are, yeah, you get into a fight with them. And they make one thing about 17 other things, right, everything else is wrong. It all comes into this. And then now it's not even about that thing. And and that's what I see a lot happening is we've sort of been so hands off to the past, in in a way that has caused entire communities to have these trauma responses to where any given moment they're going to, they're going to use that as an opportunity to like, make that situation about the past. And really getting in the way of progress. Um, and in my hope is that obviously as a black woman, I'm able to traverse a lot of these I'm more sensitive topics than like, say, the average white police officer, right. But we have to be willing to look at, okay, what has the past look like? You know, it's sort of this very uncomfortable topic where we have this new generation of police officers that are like, we don't do the shit that people did in the 30s. Like, we don't do that. But the problem is that we didn't address the things that were happening in the 30s, and the general generational impact that those stories had. And so we have people that are growing up with these stories, and then they're growing up with confirmation in social media, or they're watching it happen to themselves or their family members to where these stories are just alive and real as they were in the 30s today. So, you know, part of my mission is to have these community roundtables. We've done one already in Jacksonville. And we did it in the hood. And it was a really interesting experience. But as a society, we have to live together. We can't blow up our shit. So if we're, if we're never going to sit down at one table and talk about the past, talk about where we are talking about where we want to go and recognize where threats or dangers are coming from on all sides. Sure, then we're never going to, we're never going to do something important. It's always going to be the same generational cycle that has never stopped and that yeah, what?

Yeah, the habits of conflict.

 

I mean, it honestly, like I'm over it, and over in the sense that like, why aren't we using the past as a way to guide us into something different? Like, it's so you know, I think about, you know, within families of, I'll take my family, for example. People that were molested, as children are more likely to grow up as people who take on those same behaviors and end up molesting or hurting someone else. That happened in my family, I was molested as a young child. And I remember talking to both of my parents about it, and they just shut it down. No one wants to talk about it. And when you don't talk about things, that's when things repeat themselves. And so, now, I'm still hearing about stories of like, incest within my family. And I'm like, right, we're not talking about it. We're not offering help. We're not recognizing that something happened to someone to make them do that, you know, just people. People don't just become bad people. They're they're taught that right. You know, I just, I want better.



Yeah, I think every every. Oh, I hope everybody does. I don't I like always like to say I think everybody does. But you know, I hope. I hope that's true. I think you have a lot of good points, like there just needs to be. There's just so much emotion sometimes on both sides, that actual real, real talking and real solutions can't happen. Because emotions are high. Nobody wants to get right. The logic is gone. A logic is gone. Yeah. And yeah, you're right. I guess I can't even say it any better. The logic is gone. And nothing's going to take, you know, set in and take actual action for change.



I posted this picture yesterday, because I'm working with a university out here to create a curriculum because they said they were creating this training for police officers. It's an anti-genocide conference, and the training for the police component was like, basically help, like reviewing for them what police partition participation was in Nazi Germany. And I was like, Oh, no. And, and I was like, Okay, I'm like, Well, here's the thing. And then I showed him this picture. And it was this line of police officers, and every other officer was facing one direction and the other was facing the other so everyone could sort of watch each other's back. And they were in one line, that thin blue line. And there's this in the picture of this black woman just yelling at this white female officer and you can see bags under this officer's eyes, and you can just see just how, like, just tired she was. And I and I thought to myself, here's the issue is that everyone that's in that thin line is only thinking about the safety of themselves and the person that's to the right in their left, right. What this woman is poor Per heart out, is not getting through it, it's it biologically can not cause too much threat present. So if the threat supersedes safety, there's no amount of logic or storytelling or compassion that's going to be there, it just can't. And so if we can recognize that that's how the brain and the body work, how can we become regulated? How can we create these safe environments where we can actually discuss things in a productive way in which that logic that compassion can kind of get through?

Yeah, yeah, just not find ourselves in a way that we on both sides to, you know, get the situation all riled up again, and perpetuate it continuously, over and over? Well, I wish you luck on that. I'm glad you're out there. You know, you have good logic with us. And after doing the real hard work of trying to, you know, bring two sides closer together. Yeah. And maybe both sides are closer than maybe they wanted to think.

 

  

And that was the thing that I recognized is, there are so many people when I met when I kind of started getting involved in the police community, we're just like, Yeah, girl, your family, like come in. I'm like, This is what black people do. I'm like, Oh, my God, you guys. And in the same way that a death of a police officer will impact 1000s of other officers in other states, because they have a shared experience. That's what's happening. Every time a black person dies, is gonna go, Oh, my God, we have a shared experience. This could be me. And you assume and you empathize. And then all of a sudden, you have this entire hormonal change happening in your body. And it hasn't even happened to you. Both sides operate, all communities operate similarly. And if we can recognize that, well, then what other similarities do we have? What ways can we intersect?



Yeah, and this is something that's just going to take a little bit of time to iron out, because it's not something that's going to change overnight. It's just I felt like it's impossible to unite these type of situations overnight, and there has to be some grace on both sides.



Totally. It's just like your mental health, like we don't end up in that deep hole. Yeah. Right. It takes a lot of time and a lot of experiences to get you there. And the same thing happens in our country. After a lot of years, it's going to take a lot of time. But if we don't start taking more steps back away from that, like extreme, let's just fucking blow up the country. Then, things won't change.



Yeah, I totally agree. Erica, before I let you go, where can people find you and follow you?

 

Um, tacmobility.org is a great place to find information on the training. People can donate to our mission. Or you can check us out on social media, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, all things.

 

All things, all things, all the places. Well, thank you so much for being on. I really enjoyed our conversation. 



Thank you for having me. 



Yeah, you bet. 



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Erica Gaines Profile Photo

Erica Gaines

CEO/Founder

Erica Gaines is the President and CEO of TacMobility: Controlling the Mind + the Machine, a training program whose vision is to heal the racial divide between people of color (POC) and police officers through law enforcement wellness and community dialogue.

Having met over 100,000 officers since 2013, “The Knife Girl'' has gained wide acceptance into the LEO community. While an unlikely candidate to advocate for police, this dark-skinned, multi-racial woman from Phoenix, AZ, continues to use her voice to talk about trauma recovery, self-awareness, and Suicide: the #1 Cop Killer in America.

Her research began in 2016 when incidents of police involved shootings with unarmed black males were becoming frequent, prompting the onset of large protests. Feeling that the media portrayal of officers was inconsistent with her unique, personal experience but also wanting to get answers to questions like, “why can’t you shoot people in the leg?”or “if officers are innocent, why the payouts?”, Erica embarked on a four-year journey of conducting candid interviews with police officers at training conferences.

In 2017, she participated in the VirTra Use of Force Simulated Training at a FBI National Academy Associate (FBINAA) Conference. Forever changed by the physical experience of a shoot, Erica wondered if ‘police bias’ had more to do with a physiological stress response than racism.

With inadequate clinical research to pull from, in 2019, Erica created the world’s most extensive ongoing study of Law Enforcement Officers and Cumulative Stress. Armed with data, in 2020, Erica created a 4-hour Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) training course accredited through the National Certification Program (NCP) , developed by the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). The training program and fiscally sponsored non-profit, TacMobility: Controlling the Mind and the Machine, offers stress and trauma awareness, rehabilitative stretching, and self-awareness to police officers in the United States.

With her straightforward approach, Erica uses TacMobility to heal traumatized officers in an effort to bring communities closer. She believes that supporting the mental and physical health of officers ultimately brings support back to the community; Enabling them to balance compassion and courage, empathy and protection, creating space for positive community engagement. Her organization recognizes that this is a vital component in developing trust between communities of color and law enforcement.