First Responder Health – Thinking Outside the Box

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
4. repeat

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

Managing The Trauma Suffered In Law Enforcement

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

Armor Your Self™ 2019 Workshops

Have you read the 458 page softcover resilience textbook: Armor Your Self: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement and want to learn more?

We are bringing our Armor Your Self™ workshops to a city near you:

Armor Your Self™ 2019 Preliminary Spring Workshop Calendar includes workshops in Daytona Beach, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; Lansing, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; Pueblo, Colorado; Glendale, Arizona and one hosted by the Louisiana State Police.

To learn more or register for one of these workshops visit: https://armoryourself.com/register/

The Armor Your Self™ project is a powerful concept that will begin building the foundations of law enforcement health and wellness for your personnel, your families and for your organization.

The program is taught as a Resilience Research Learning Laboratory with all the participants researching, discussing and learning information that is specific, and important to them.

Each participant receives a copy of the 458 page softcover resilience textbook: Armor Your Self: How To Survive A Career In Law Enforcement by John Marx (a $24.95 value).

Participants will find the tools they need to recognize the symptoms of the toxic effects… Continue reading

CopsAlive Hosts 2019 TREPP Webcasts

John Marx and Chaplain Cary A. Friedman invite you to join us for a new online discussion LIVE webcast series 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 LIVE webcasts that will last about an hour. They will involve a little discussion, a little training and a few guests along the way.

Please watch our welcome video:

Our sessions will be held regularly, approximately once a month, usually on a Wednesday at Noon Eastern Time.

Space will be limited to the first 100 people who register in advance.

Register here: https://tacticalresilience.org/online-training/

Each session will be recorded and posted on our CopsAlive YouTube Channel after the event

Please reach out by email or online and send us your thoughts before the webinar and we will incorporate them into the discussion… Continue reading

Is Our Police Culture Causing Suicides?

It’s National Suicide Prevention Week again (September 9th – 15th, 2018) in the United States which is a week-long campaign to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide.

I lost one of my law enforcement friends to suicide in 2007 and that’s what prompted me to start CopsAlive.com.

In my opinion, law enforcement suicide is a symptom of what ails our profession, and it should be an priority issue to resolve — but it hasn’t been.

This year, I thought I would follow suit with some other enlightened thinkers on this issue and challenge you to think about how our law enforcement culture contributes to suicide, and how we can fix that… Continue reading

What Can We Do To Better Help One Another?

I read two very interesting articles today and I want to hear your opinion.

The first was something that someone sent me on Social Media entitled Diary of a Suicidal Cop

The second as an article posted by the National Center for PTSD entitled Help Someone You Love on PTSD Awareness Day. (Today is National PTSD Awareness Day – see below for links and resources).

I’d like you to read both and then share your comments here about how we can better serve our brothers and sisters behind the badge.

We should not have to Suffer In Silence!

When I read the Diary of a Suicidal Cop, I am saddened, I am moved and I can readily identify with lots of the feelings, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t help those who need it most… Continue reading

Police Officers and Firefighters Are More Likely to Die by Suicide than in Line of Duty

A just-released White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide among First Responders commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation examines mental illness among police officers and firefighters, who commit suicide at a higher rate, and have PTSD and depression as much as 5 times higher… Continue reading

Police Peer Support: Does it work?

Police Peer Support: Does it work?
The Efficacy of Law Enforcement Peer Support
By: Police Psychologist Jack A. Digliani, PhD, EdD

EDITORS NOTE: This article was submitted by CopsAlive longtime contributor Dr. Jack Digliani and it is of particular importance because I believe he has created one of the first and certainly most thorough evaluations of Proactive Peer Support programs ever conducted. Jack is truly one of the world’s preeminent promoters of effective law enforcement peer support and how to properly train for it. READ this article, visit his website, and use his free materials that are available here on CopsAlive and also on his site. If you haven’t had Jack conduct a training program for your agency yet, you are truly missing the best!

Peer support teams within law enforcement agencies have existed for many years. Although many law enforcement officers and police psychologists have advocated for peer support programs, there has been surprising little research providing evidence for the efficacy of peer support.

To gather information about the use and outcome of agency peer support, the peer support experiences of employees of three northern Colorado law enforcement agencies, Fort Collins Police Services, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, and Loveland Police Department, were assessed utilizing the Peer Support Team Utilization and Outcome Survey. The peer support teams of each agency are well established, similarly structured, and function under the oversight of a licensed mental health professional. Each member of the peer support teams was initially trained within the Police Peer Support Team Training program.

The applied methodology for Survey distribution and collection produced a return of 644 surveys. This represented approximately 77.9% of the survey-eligible population. Of the 644 surveys collected, 631 were returned completed (76.3% of the survey-eligible population).

The rate of return… Continue reading

We Need a RE-evolution in Law Enforcement

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

PTSD Awareness Day June 2017

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