Reetu Mall takes the stage at 2023 CAPE conference

BVC instructor spearheads the conversation about the impact of trauma in policing and the justice system.

Reetu Mall is a seasoned criminologist with over 13 years of experience working within different realms of the justice system. Currently working at Bow Valley College as an instructor in the College’s Justice Studies department, Reetu teaches a variety of topics including Criminology, Trauma Informed Practice, Diversity and Criminal Justice in Canada, Ethics in Criminal Justice and Safety, and more.

I believe in strength-based education and instruction through an anti-oppressive and trauma-informed lens. My approach to education minimizes harm and prioritizes the wellness of students as they prepare for the challenges and complexities that they will face while working within the criminal justice system,” she says. Reetu is also an active part of the criminal justice community outside of academia, volunteering with the Calgary Police Service Anti-Racism Action Committee (ARAC).

Reetu’s wealth of experience and knowledge, along with her unique approach to teaching, makes her the ideal candidate to speak at the 2023 Canadian Association of Police Educators (CAPE) conference. Reetu will be giving a keynote presentation entitled “What is wrong with me versus what happened to me?” with Dr. D. Travcer from Mount Royal University.

“The presentation focuses on the slow erosion of wellness that can take place over an officer’s career. Vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue can infiltrate officers’ physical and mental health, wellness, morale, relationships, and front-facing interactions with the community,” she says.

Reetu aims to help CAPE conference participants identify the slow erosion of wellness and provide practical strategies to implement meaningful change at a personal and organizational level.

“Conversations around trauma and organizational wellness are important as there is still work that needs to be done to eliminate the stigma of asking for help with mental health issues and prioritizing wellness in policing,” Reetu shares. “Policing culture is unique in that police officers regularly work in high-stress situations and are consistently exposed to traumatic events, yet the conversation around the impact of these events can be limited at times.” Her focus at this year’s conference is to prioritize, support, and address the trauma faced by police officers in the field.

Reetu’s CAPE presentation is influenced by the content that is taught in the Trauma Informed Care course (HSMV 2304) at Bow Valley College. The course focuses heavily on the importance of trauma-informed care toward clients. HSMV 2304 also focuses on first responders’ mental health, self-care, and overall wellness. The course teaches students to recognize vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, burnout, and PTSD while providing them with the tools needed to maintain a self-care plan.

“Maintaining a working relationship between policing organizations and academia is beneficial as they both provide important insight on topics within policing," Reetu says. “Criminologists can provide high-quality research and training, conduct problem analysis, and explain the importance of topics such as trauma and wellness from an evidence-based perspective. Whereas police can provide personal insight, statistics, and in-depth knowledge of the systems they work within and the barriers they may face. Together the two parties can address issues from a comprehensive understanding.”

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