PTSD, coupled with our fear and ignorance about it, is becoming one of the most pressing issues in law enforcement. We promise to “take care of our own” and we need to start doing it. Don’t be afraid, and don’t be ignorant about PTSD. Educate yourself about this problem so that we will truly never leave anyone behind!
Our thanks go out again to Deborah Louise Ortiz and her husband Michael for what they are doing to help cops. You might remember CopsAlive.com wrote about them in January as they began fundraising to produce the film “Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance”. They are continuing to work on their film and these two videos are their testimonials on Transcendental Meditation (TM) and about how it has helped them both as Michael manages his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Law enforcement officers need the proper nutrition and hydration to give them the energy required to handle the tough challenges of police work.
Police Officers are juggling many different jobs. If you are a cop then you are an enforcer, defender, protector, social worker, friend, mother/father, sister/brother, aunt/uncle, grandmother/grandfather, daughter/son, student, chef, chauffeur, sports coach, business owner, accountant, personal secretary and landscaper. I am sure that I missed a few of our everyday duties but this is what consisted of a day in the Life of a Philadelphia Police Officer when I was on the force not so long ago.
Editors Note: We are proud to welcome Christa Cassilis-Hayburn as a new contributor to CopsAlive.com. Christa was a police officer with the Philadelphia Police Department for 11 years until she was forced to leave the job due to chronic pain from an on the job injury. Today Christa leads a healthy, relatively pain-free lifestyle and teaches others how to do the same. In this installment Christa will tell us about the dangers of too much sugar in our diets.
How much Sugar do you think you consume in ONE day?
Police officers and other law enforcement professionals have had a love affair with sugar and caffeine for centuries. A cop with a cup of coffee and donut is the stereotypic image used to typecast law enforcement officers. In this article I want give you an alternative to that nutritional choice and help you find something that will get you through your shift and help you survive the rigors of your career in law enforcement.
Here is another question that will really make you think… Are you ADDICTED to Sugar?
Like heroin, cocaine and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread -William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues.
How dare I ask such a question like that but I certainly remember those days where I “knew” that I needed to eat Sugar just to wake me up mid afternoon.
When I went into the police academy I never drank a cup of coffee in my life. After a few months on the job, I was drinking one to two 16 ounce cups of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Here was the order that I gave: “Medium coffee with X-tra –X-tra”. That’s right Extra Creamer and Extra Sugar. Did I have any idea what Sugar would do to me in the long run? NO Clue!
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
Today is PTSD Awareness Day in the United States. Please visit the website for the National Center for PTSD to learn more about this terrible disorder that affects many law enforcement officers around the world.
Do you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? It’s alarming how many people in law enforcement may be suffering with it. I know that when I took a PTSD indicator survey two years after I retired I scored a lot higher than I had expected. I’ve read lots of conflicting statistics about how many police officers have or could have the symptoms of PTSD, but statistics can be misleading just as much as ignorance of the issues of mental wellness. Some of you may not meet the criteria for the diagnosis but are still suffering from the effects of excessive or un-managed stress.
The important question is how many of us in law enforcement have the symptoms of PTSD or other types of distress and those symptoms are causing problems with our work or home life. More importantly how many of us are not working to manage these problems because of fear of losing a job or being rejected as weak by our peers.
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
As we finish the first couple of months of the New Year, many of us are adjusting to our committed changes we have made for a healthier 2012.
One area which can make a huge difference in our wellness program is our eating when on duty.
• Do you have a plan for your meals at work?
• Do you succumb to the quick and easy fix of fast food or easy to grab snack foods when we are ravenous?
• Do you constantly pick at food that people offer?
I used to be one of the officers who would spend quite a bit of money on junk food and eating crap while on duty. I felt like crap and it was no secret as I weighed over 350 pounds trying to do this job. My body ached, my demeanor was not nice and I was miserable. I was fortunate many years ago when I slowly decided to change the way I was eating and start exercising. I indicated several weeks ago, I am in the best shape of my life today as I slowly approach the age of 50.
A great part of my success keeping the weight off has been planning out my meals when I have to work. It sounds complicated but it is simple when… Continue reading
In December 2011, a study was released by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston which reported that about 40% of police officers in the U.S. have a sleep disorder. From my experience over the past 27 years as a cop, my thought is this: “TELL ME SOMETHING, I DON’T ALREADY KNOW”. Seriously, I am thrilled with this study as we are once again getting scientific facts which will help our profession advocate for better working conditions.
Dr. Bryan Vila in his book: TIRED COPS has already been educating us on this serious issue.
As law enforcement officers know most of our duty time is during the night hours. I worked midnights for many years and I can tell anyone first hand that it was tough especially during those shift hours between 0300 to 0600 when we as human beings have a natural dip to fade physically as our human biological clock tell us we should be sleeping. We have other cops who work swing shifts, rotating shifts, 10-12 and some 16 hour shifts. Unbelievable!
The conflict is the public we serve and police administrators expect us to be bright eyed and bushy tailed during these hours. Put on top of this expectation: rotating shift schedules, forced overtime shifts, court appearances and training are some of the professional conflicts that police officers face. This contributes to the problem. I mean let’s face it; there are very few court sessions or in-service training being held during the night time hours with an exception of the large communities or agencies.