The first paid police force of six men began patrolling the city of Los Angeles in 1869.
Today, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) employs 10,000 officers who are sworn to protect and to serve the more than 3 million residents, spread out over 465 square miles of the city.
Police officers on any force may be on their feet, walking or running; driving a patrol car, arresting or accompanying a suspect or prisoner, seated at a desk to fill out reports, or engaging in other challenging or repetitive activities.
Los Angeles-based massage therapist Richard Lomeli, CMT, is putting his soft-tissue therapy experience to work in service to LAPD recruits, supporting future police officers by teaching injury prevention and self-care.
He already had his foot in the door at LAPD, having recently achieved a new goal of becoming an officer. He works 36 hours a week as a detention officer for the department.
“My experience as a soft tissue therapist was known by my drill instructors while I was in the academy,” Lomeli explained. “A few months after I graduated, I was invited back to the academy to speak with the new-recruit officer class about injury prevention and self-care in preparation of their physical training.”
The education he provided helped recruits understand how to increase their performance, Lomeli said, and the training unit told Lomeli that the information he has shared with recruits was well received and utilized during their time in the academy.
“I think—in any field that requires consistent physical performance—[that] injury prevention and self-care are vital to obtaining an enhancement in physical performance,” he said. “It’s difficult to increase performance when you don’t make an effort to accelerate the recovery process.”
An Officer and a Therapist
Lomeli had already created great success as a sports therapist, but he had long held another career goal: to work in law enforcement.
“Around 2007 I was heavily considering applying to the police department and decided to start training in preparation of the academy before I applied,” Lomeli recalled. “During that time I became more exposed to the many levels of athletic performance and decided to change my trajectory and focus on massage therapy.”
For close to a decade, Lomeli has worked as a corrective therapy consultant to trainers and athletes around the world. He has worked with athletes including Super Bowl Champions, CrossFit athletes, hockey players, triathletes, MotoGP and World Superbike competitors and others.
In 2015, he co-founded Function Forward Advanced Therapeutics, designing and lecturing on Soft Tissue Corrective Therapy curriculums, and developing the American Soft Tissue Corrective Therapy method, which is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. (Lomeli is also a contributor to MASSAGE Magazine and massagemag.com.)
Also in 2015, Lomeli applied for and was accepted into the LAPD academy for detention officers.
“I believe there was something like 1,200-1,500 applicants and 24 were selected for the academy class I would become a part of,” he told MASSAGE Magazine.
Where Do You Want to Go?
Working with police recruits is a possible career add-on for any skilled and experienced massage therapist, according to Lomeli.
“This is definitely a way to expand one’s hands-on career, he said, “however, knowledge is only half the recipe, the other half is experience.”
To effectively connect with an audience, Lomeli stresses that the therapist must have hands-on experience doing the work they are discussing.
“I don’t see how it’s possible to deliver a valuable product if [the speaker] lacks experience,” he said. “Look at it this way, when you speak to an audience, are you sharing your expert opinion or are you just repeating something someone else told you?”
But once a therapist possesses education and experience, Lomeli added, anything is possible.
It’s all about mindset.
“Anything you want to do in life, do it,” he said. “You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow and no one owes you anything, it’s you that owes yourself.
“When I shared with my family I wanted to become a massage therapist, they said I was crazy,” he added. “When I eventually said I wanted to apply for a position in law enforcement, they said, ‘What, are you crazy? You’re an amazing therapist.’
“Pick a spot a hundred miles away and take steps toward it,” Lomeli advised. “Whether you get there or not is up to you.”
About the Author
Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief.