EDITORS NOTE: Guest contributor Sean Peterson is a patrolman with the Taunton Police Department in Southeastern Massachusetts and a member of the regional Critical Incident Stress Management team. He is also the owner and performance director at Chaos Fitness.
I sat down to write this in the wake of New York City Police Department’s ninth suicide this year. The current Blue H.E.L.P. statistics stand at 131 suicides on the year, with four months to go. Protesters are literally begging police to commit suicide in Portland, Oregon. With what feels like everyone and everything against us, how do we rise above the darkness? Below I have outlined some thoughts and ideas surrounding mental and physical health we first responders can easily employ in such trying times.
A Physical and Mental Approach
“Combat” or “Square” Breathing
Here’s the simple process…
1. Intently breath in with strong focus- slowly counting 1, 2, 3, 4
2. hold that breath counting 1, 2, 3 ,4
3. slowly and consistently exhale that breath 1, 2, 3, 4
Simply put, combat/square breathing is an effective way to calm the nervous system. It is a very basic introduction to the world of mindfulness, creating space between ourselves and our reactions. It brings our focus to the present moment by concentrating our attention on our breathing, allowing us to slow things down for a while, so our bodies can catch up. Consider implementing this technique to offset the adrenaline spikes and stressors associated with hot calls, inter-department nonsense and the obstacles of everyday life. The beauty of this technique is… Continue reading
This week we will be continuing our online discussions about modern policing as part of our Tactical Resilience™ & Ethical Policing Project. We want to ignite a thoughtful, and regular, discussion about issues critical to the success of modern policing and we want to involve you! To that end we are planning regular webinars that will last about an hour. talking about how law enforcement officers, and other first responders, manage the trauma they encounter within their careers. Our focus will be on the prevention, management and recovery from trauma.
Our guest will be Law Enforcement Survival Institute faculty member NYPD Intelligence Detective First Grade (Ret.) Mordecai Z. Dzikansky.
As part of NYPD’s Manhattan South Homicide Squad Det. Dzikansky responded to, and participated in the investigation at, ground zero following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Additionally, from January 2003 through 2008… Continue reading
I believe that law enforcement is the most noble of all professions.
I believe that the people who take a job or take an oath to protect and to serve their community in law enforcement should be honored and celebrated for that decision.
I believe we should be held to a higher standard.
I believe we should be nurtured, supported, encouraged and esteemed for that higher standard.
I believe that higher standard is a colossal commitment that should not be accepted lightly.
I believe many, many law enforcement professionals are suffering in silence because the burden of service in this profession is substantial and the expectations are monumental.
We are the Guardians of the Peace – we are the thin blue line between a peaceful society and anarchy.
We have promised… Continue reading
How’s Your Brain Doing?
Building and maintaining mental strength is critical to your performance and effectiveness in life and at work.
In the book Armor Your Self: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement I talk about the importance of strengthening your “Self” physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
When I talk about mental health and fitness, I’m talking about the cognitive functioning and fitness you need to thrive as a law enforcement professional or other emergency responder.
The other things you might think of as “mental health” are covered in the emotional and spiritual health categories of our overall plan for building Tactical Resilience™ and I will, or have, covered them in other articles (See Below).
For the purposes of our discussion here I want you to think about the cognitive functions that are critical to your performance in your capacity as a law enforcement professional or other emergency responder role.
To me mental strength comes from regular conditioning much like… Continue reading
Today is PTSD Awareness Day 2017 and June is PTSD Awareness Month here in the United States. Law enforcement officers can experience overwhelming issues of cumulative stress and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder known as PTSD. We need to start taking care of each other. Continue reading
The Law Enforcement Survival Institute is proud to announce the release of John Marx’s new book: Armor Your Self™: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement.
The book helps law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in order to build Tactical Resilience™.
This book also provides guidance and support for law enforcement family members to use in order to learn how to help their family survive that career in policing.
This book is about “Saving the Lives of the People Who Save Lives”
Police work is the most toxic job on the planet, and if the members of the law enforcement community don’t take measures to protect themselves, this job will eat them up!
If law enforcement officers did a true threat assessment of their careers, they would realize that the real dangers lie not with the bad guys, but within the stresses of the job. High rates of suicide, depression, alcoholism, domestic violence, PTSD, heart attack and cancer are the real cop killers.
In this book you will learn about: Continue reading
It’s the beginning of a new year and everyone in the world is thinking about improving their physical fitness. You on the other hand are a police professional and you know that you have to think of yourself as a professional police athlete who trains all the time, and will do so for the rest of your life. You do that because you know that this career is filled with hidden dangers that can be toxic to your physical and emotional health. You know that in order to adequately Armor Your Self™ against the negative side-effects of this career you must strengthen and condition your Self mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually every day.
Sure, you know all this, but it’s hard to do. So why don’t you use this new year to recharge your batteries and set some fresh goals to take care of yourself. Why don’t you create a positive mindset of comprehensive fitness for your Self and get started today.
How do law enforcement officers stay healthy? Continue reading
This week is scared in the U.S. as we celebrate National Police Week in Washington D.C. During this week every year we honor those who have fallen in the line of duty, and we work to support and assist the survivors that have been left behind.
This is a time to honor the fallen while rededicating ourselves toward improving the way we serve our communities and enhance our ability to protect our citizens and ourselves.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) “This year, we’re adding 286 officers to the walls of the memorial. The names, to be added Tuesday evening in a candlelight vigil, include those of 100 officers killed in the line of duty in 2013 and 186 fallen officers from past years.”
The United By Light campaign gives everyone, everywhere around the world, especially those who can’t make it to Washington, DC, on May 13, to see the activities of the Candlelight Vigil Ceremony by Live Stream on the internet.
Register to watch the CandleLight Vigil live stream at:
Are You a Survivor?
If you are a survivor of a law enforcement death and are not… Continue reading
What does it take to Armor Your Self™ Spiritually?
As we prepare for the Spring 2014 publication of John Marx’ new book: “Armor Your Self™: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement” we are going to preview some of the information and concepts contained within the Armor Your Self™ book and training program.. This book is meant to provide guidance to all law enforcement professionals and their families about tactics and strategies that can work to protect them and help create a positive quality of life.
The basic premise of this concept is that in order to successfully survive a career in law enforcement one must Armor Your Self™ physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to strengthen and condition your being to guard against the “hidden dangers” of this very toxic profession.
The spiritual component of this self-protective prevention program is one of the most challenging for… Continue reading
Today is PTSD Awareness Day and its time for those of us in law enforcement to learn more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and take a stance on how we will preserve and maintain our mental health and resilience in the face of a very toxic career.
Today’s the day and June is PTSD Awareness Month and we encourage you to learn more about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) not only to help yourself but your peers and the family members who need you by visiting the website for the National Center for PTSD which is run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
What are you doing to raise awareness about PTSD in your agency?
They invite you to “Take the STEP and Raise Awareness about PTSD“
- Learn about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Challenge Beliefs
- Explore Options
- Reach Out
Isn’t it time that we in law enforcement take our own step toward understanding this issue and openly talking about it in our roll-calls and other agency meetings. You can download our CopsAlive Roll-Call training guide on PTSD byCLICKING HERE or keep reading to learn about the many resources being made available by the National Center for PTSD.
Rates of PTSD in law enforcement officers vary but… Continue reading