Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire has 25+ years as a police officer and is currently serving as a Patrol Sergeant in a suburb of Metrowest Boston, Massachusetts. Mark is continually training as a police peer assistant, and serves as a volunteer member of a regional C.I.S.M. team. He is committed to educating public safety professionals about the benefits of good health,developing our relationships and emotional wellness to improve our quality of life on and off duty.
There’s nothing like a good road trip for chatting while traveling to build and strengthen your personal relationships.
As we approach the July 4th holiday and it’s weekend I’m reminded of my experiences over Memorial Day weekend, which was the start of the summer time vacation season here in New England. My bride and I went on a road trip to the Hudson Valley in New York State that weekend. I know…I know you’re thinking: Sarge, how did you… Continue reading
Peace Officer Memorial Day celebrated on May 15 was first designated in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed legislation which requires the America flag to be lower to half-mast on May 15. The tradition of honoring our Law Enforcement who have died in the line of duty has grown over the past 50 years.
This year, thousands of LEO’s, supporters including many of the surviving families will descend on Washington, D.C. to honor the 19,000 LEO’s who died in the line of duty and support their loved ones.
In the past 13 months, I’ve visited this sacred place which is located in Judiciary Square twice. It is an emotional visit observing the names and the remembrance gifts decorating many of the fallen officers.
I want you to consider and join me for a few moments to also remember many more LEO’s whose names are not on this blessed wall. Continue reading
Recently, I had my biennial physical check up with my primary care physician. For me, it is like the scheduled maintenance on our vehicles. It something we should look forward to doing every year or as my HMO offers: every other year. The check-up is to ensure our bodies are running smoothly.
As I admitted in previous articles, I reached the Golden anniversary of my birth recently so my physician was very thorough with his check list of my body parts, equipment and the engine (my heart). Everything appears in order and we always have a great conversation about diets, exercise and my job performance as a law enforcement officer. I’ve been very… Continue reading
Well it happened to me again. I was starting my shift on the road with a stop for the bathroom and I made an embarrassing discovery. I put my long johns on backwards.
Oh… stop laughing as I am sure many of you as LEOs have encountered situations such as mine. It is these situations which reminds us of our vulnerability to distractions on and off duty.
Now I am not going make excuses or place the blame on my age or memory. I can admit in my rush to get dressed and inattention to details which placed me into this dilemma.
I’d like to take a moment to bring up the topic of SITUATIONAL AWARENESS especially in law enforcement.
Situational awareness is critical to officer survival in law enforcement.
One of the ways I can describe Situational Awareness is this: You need to be emotionally, cognitively and physically present when you are working. Aware of what is happening around you at this moment. Preparing to meet the challenges presented to us… Continue reading
Right after the New Year many of us as police officers and other law enforcement professionals take this time to self-access our fitness, our lives and our well being. Sometimes, however we procrastinate, so I want to give you a little kick start to get you going with positive commitments for this coming year.
Law enforcement career survival takes a plan and a concerted effort. Let’s discuss some ideas to help you put together your wellness plan for 2013.
Over the last year we have witnessed many good things and many tragedies. Some things are beyond our immediate control but you and I have the ability to take control of our own fitness, our own emotional and spiritual well being. This balance is the key to a productive and more positive lifestyle both on and off duty as a law enforcement professional.
As a Law Enforcement Officer and there are many of us with different titles and responsibilities who are tasked with maintaining public order, public safety and enforcing the laws and regulations of our jurisdictions. We also uphold the public’s rights and freedoms under the U.S. Constitution. We are the Honorable Profession, one that the public entrusts us to uphold our justice system and provide assistance to many in need every day.
As members of this honorable profession we need to be emotionally and physically fit.
We must uphold our professional behavior within difficult situations and with the challenging… Continue reading
A few months ago, I received a telephone call from a family friend during date night with my wife. The call was from a family friend so I answered the phone. Our friend was in the observatory which is on top of the Prudential Tower in Boston. She called asking for some advice. The power was off and it was dark.
• Friend: The lights and the power are off and no one is telling us what to do?… Continue reading
Do you know the story about sheep, wolves and sheepdogs?
The Sunday morning after the Colorado theater shooting, I had the rare opportunity of enjoying a day off which fell on a Sunday. A ritual of mine is to attend church with my family. I was eager to attend this day as a woman priest who is a friend of mine was preaching for our vacationing clergy.
Chris was telling the story of the sheep, shepherds and sheepdogs. She was reminding us of the role of a sheepdog to guide the herd of sheep and how we all have a responsibility to look out for each other. There was no mention of the current events in her sermon.
At the time of peace, Chris came over to me to hug me. She whispered in my ear that it is nice to hug you without the guns in your hands. The previous Wednesday, I ran into Chris behind my police station as I was assisting our mechanic remove a shotgun and a patrol rifle from a disabled cruiser to be secured inside the station. It’s all about timing in life and unfortunately Chris and I did not get a change for a friendly hug that day. One could say my hands were full at that moment.
After the service, I had coffee with several friends including Chris. Everyone wants to know in a kind but awkward way what’s going on in our community. They want to hear that life is Utopia and sometimes I have to adjust my comments to minimize the shock and awe factor. Calling it “sugar coating” the truth or allowing my friends to enjoy their peaceful existence in their own world, I have to edit the reality of police work to my audience. Some people want the raw and powerful truth that is the reality of police work, and others want to feel safe believing in their minds that the world is safe.
Chris and I had a moment to share on her sermon and I brought to her attention the story by Lt. Col. David Grossman on the role of… Continue reading
Many law enforcement officers come to a point in their careers where they have that feeling that the flame has gone out. The spark of enthusiasm has disappeared. The job is not fun anymore. These are some of the indicators of Police Burnout.
Early in my career there was a funny saying B.O.S.S., which made light fun of Officer Burnout with a tongue in cheek cartoon of an officer doing the Superman pose with the B as a symbol on his chest. If I remember correctly, there was a club you could send away a gag application for membership too.
Unfortunately many LEO’s of the past suffered from the symptoms and the reality of burnout. It affected their performance on and off the job. Burnout was not a formally recognized symptom or hazard of public safety career. Although we laughed about it, it destroyed many careers and people.
The University of Buffalo has released information from the 5 year police population based study, Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) which is being conducted by Dr. John Violanti,Ph.D of their School of Public Health and Health Professions.
Dr. Violanti is a retired New York State Trooper and one of the best researchers in Law Enforcement Health.
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health indicates that the daily psychological stresses that police officers experience in their work put them at significantly higher risk than the general population for many long-term physical and mental health effects.
The research will be released in a special issue of the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health which reveals the connections of daily police work stress, obesity, suicide, sleep disorders and cancer. The study indicates… Continue reading
The other night, my wife and I were enjoying our dinner together at home. We were discussing the results of a study that was recently published that confirmed a link between fast food and depression. As we interacted about the subject, my wife who has been my best helper and supporter during my 25+ years in law enforcement, and who has been researching wellness issues in the public safety profession made this statement:
“It is a vicious cycle, when people are depressed they don’t have… Continue reading
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