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National Police Week: Sheriff’s Office Quiet Room Featured by Thomson Reuters Institute

Sensory environment designed by FGMA implements research-based solutions to reduce stress and boost mental health

Police administration officials are looking for opportunities to address employee retention and resilience in the face of extreme stress, and 911 dispatchers, often called the “first” first responders, are at the center of it all. In honor of National Police Week 2024, the Thomson Reuters Institute featured FGMA’s quiet room design for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office 911 Dispatch Center as part of an exploration of current innovations in modern policing.

Martin Bennett, Executive Director of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office 911 Dispatch Center, recognized the need to support dispatchers, especially since his team serves not just one, but fourteen counties. Entrusted with the project, two members of the firm’s public safety design practice, architect Ray Lee and interior designer Raegan Porter, developed a design for a resiliency room for these extremely busy dispatchers. The resulting design concepts were informed by the practice’s familiarity with the research of Dr. Joel Robertson, brain scientist and CEO of Robertson Health.

The spaces offer a research-based sensory environment to encourage stress reduction and boost mental health and has been reported by multiple news outlets. The future of policing depends on environmental design that provides opportunities within the workplace to better navigate stress so responders can serve the public even more effectively. An excerpt from the Thomson Reuters Institute coverage follows, with a link to the full article below.

“Interestingly, there… is a growing effort to leverage environmental design to help first responders to counteract the impact that high stress has on their nervous systems. For example, FGM Architects worked with brain scientist Dr. Joel Robertson to integrate sensory components in the design of the Cook County (Ill.) Sheriff’s office quiet room. This facility houses Sheriff’s department operations and the 911 dispatch center which serves 14 counties. The quiet room incorporates chromotherapy (colored lights), soundscapes, [biophilic design] and diffused essential oils to reduce stress levels among first responders, especially after repeated exposure to high-stress interactions.

[S]cience has found that tunable lighting that can shift the color temperature of light can significantly impact an individual’s overall mood and lower stress levels. These environmental changes are one way that police administration officials hope to address perpetual employee retention and staff burnout issues that impact emergency call centers."

Learn More

  • Cook County 911 quiet room design spotlight on ABC 7 Chicago

  • FGMA  podcast “Design for first responder facilities that help reduce stressors"

  • Connect with public safety design experts Ray Lee and Raegan Porter

  • Read the full Reuters article

FGMA’s Public Safety Practice 

FGMA offers unparalleled public safety expertise. The public safety practice is continually expanding its expertise by researching trends and innovations, networking with chiefs, touring stations nationwide and abroad. FGMA’s experience in designing dispatch centers provides practical features necessary for dispatch workers to perform their job in the harshest conditions, and to be comfortable and healthy.

The entire public safety design team spends considerable time in police stations, 911 dispatch centers and fire stations observing both interactions and operational flow which leads to design solutions that yield better functionality, promote health and wellness, increase job satisfaction and improve response rates.

View FGMA’s full public safety design portfolio.


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