In 2006, Brant Rogers offered a free yoga class to police officers at his studio in Hillsboro, Ore. No one showed up.
A few days later his phone rang. The caller introduced himself as Detective Richard Goerling of the local police department. “I want to talk about yoga for cops.” he told Rogers. “I want you to help figure out a way to stop the hurting.’”
Goerling was intent on finding techniques that might help police officers cope with the job’s endemic pressures, which can cloud judgment, fuel unconscious biases, and manifest as rage or panic — or a combination of the two. Emotionally charged states can create the kind of deadly chaos that has made headlines in Ferguson, Baton Rouge, Tulsa, St. Paul, and a list of other municipalities, large and small, that grows by the day.
“American policing is in the midst of a crisis,” says Goerling, who is now a lieutenant in Hillsboro. “But nothing is going to change until we teach people why they behave a certain way in certain situations. We don’t teach techniques to change that behavior. We just wait until cops are broken, until tragedy strikes, and then we do an intervention.”