Embracing Heart-Focused Policing

Thanks to your support, Sarko Gergerian is doing his usual police work by day — and by night he’s training to become certified in MDMA-assisted therapy. See how your donations are preparing people like Sarko to help heal the trauma that represents a crisis among first responders.

Lieutenant Sarko Gergerian has seen a great deal of crisis in his 10 years of police work. It’s the nature of the job. The daily call logs at the station are a running record of human suffering. 

The best way to reduce such suffering, Sarko believes, is by helping his fellow first responders heal from their trauma. 

The old saying holds true for first responders too: “sometimes hurt people hurt people.” 

If their hurt is healed, they can embrace “heart-focused policing,” which benefits them and the whole community. 

Because of your visionary support, Sarko has modified MAPS’ mission of well-being for all people into a personal mission of well-being for all first responders.

“But there’s a problem,” Sarko says. “We first responders tend to be guarded, suspicious, and resistant to change. We struggle with trauma, yet fear revealing our struggles to others. So we suffer in silence.” 

This had given Sarko a hopeless feeling — until he met MAPS founder Rick Doblin at a police conference in 2017. The meeting changed his life. 

You see, at one point, Sarko and the other attendees were faced with a choice of two presentations: one by then-President Donald Trump or one by MAPS Founder Rick Doblin. Sarko chose the latter.

The presentation stirred his soul. So Sarko went up to Doblin afterwards and asked how he could help. Doblin’s answer: Sarko should consider becoming the first police officer in the MDMA-assisted therapist trainee program offered by MAPS. 

Sarko took Doblin’s words to heart. He realized this was his chance to help his fellow first responders, his community, and policing in general.

“Law enforcement personnel are psychologically trapped in a ‘triple box’ of criminalization, prohibition, and local regulation — and they often don’t realize it,” Sarko explains. “I feel called to help first responders unpack these boxes.”

Now, he has completed the program’s required 100 hours of training. All that remains is for him to participate in an MDMA-assisted therapy treatment in which his role will be to “hold space” for a participant. After that, Sarko will be certified.

“I’m happy to be involved in this,” he says. “I can spread the word. I can lead by example and speak openly about the MDMA-assisted-therapy I participated in during my training.”

Lately, Sarko notes, more people in his community are seeing the new How to Change Your Mind Netflix special, in which he and his connection to MAPS are featured. Sarko’s chief has been very positive and supportive of his appearance in the docuseries. Many other people are appreciative as well. 

A few are resistant to his efforts, but Sarko is determined to be understanding. “This just pushes an important conversation forward.”  

“Without MAPS,” Sarko says, “the psychedelic renaissance would not be happening. Now, the possibilities are endless. I see hope and possibility for a future with peace. Massive change is coming.” 

And, he wants you to know: “That’s why I’m a monthly donor. I want to say thank you to the supporters. I want to encourage others to help where and when they can, in whatever way that they can.”