I recently had a chance to interview Julie Zielinski about her new book entitled: “Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors”. Julie wrote the book after her son, a sheriff’s deputy in Washington state, took his own life. As Julie reflects on the death of her firstborn son, she informs parents and children of the dangers of suicide, the difficulty of coping, the pain of everyday life, and lastly the days that happiness returns, even if just a little bit.
Matt Zielinski was an athlete, a U.S. Marine Corp. Sergeant, and ultimately fulfilled his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer. Matt worked for the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office in Wenatchee, Washington. He loved his work and was due to be appointed to the SWAT Team because… 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
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.
What are you going to do after your law enforcement career ends? Are you planning now for what you will do? We do not have complete control about how our careers will progress and what will happen to us on the job. There are many pitfalls that can derail even a successful career in law enforcement.
None of us can predict how long our career in police work or law enforcement will last, but we can create a strategy for how we want our careers to progress and when we want to leave the job. We can plan for what we will do after we leave the job for another career, or how we will live and what we will do, with our time in retirement.
I recently had a chance to speak with one such former police officer who had a plan and who is now helping others in law enforcement and elsewhere plan for their futures in many ways. His name is Brian Deegan, and he created a plan for his success while he was working as a cop and now helps others create their plans. Continue reading
The Canyon at Santa Monica Outpatient Services would like to invite you to their Lunch & Learn Event with Sean Riley Founder of Safe Call Now where they will be discussing: “Resources for First Responders Coping with Stress & PTSD”. Read Below for Details 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.
“Heroes Behind the Badge” is a new documentary film being created to honor America’s heroes in law enforcement. This inspiring documentary will change the way we look at the men and women of law enforcement and highlight the unselfish acts of bravery… Continue reading
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
Our mission at Cops Alive is “Saving the lives of the people who save lives.” I’ve shared many times about the many hidden dangers of law enforcement. We’re reminded of the 73 officers murdered each year, but we rarely acknowledge the 400 plus officers who take their own lives each year by suicide.
The list of stressors that lead cops to commit suicide is long, but one that certainly plagues a great number of us is stress and worry about money. Financial mismanagement does not always lead to suicide, but it’s definitely a contributor.
We train hard and allocate resources to shooting and unarmed tactics, yet ignore the more probable risk factors like alcohol abuse, marital problems and personal finance issues. Stress at home distracts cops from doing their job effectively, opening them up to greater risks on the streets.
We ought to use the same strategies to manage the hidden risks that we do to plan tactical situations. For example, imagine how… Continue reading
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