We Support Heroes Behind the Badge, Do You?

“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

Vote CopsAlive to be THE Top LE Blog

Your vote can make us THE Top Blog. CopsAlive has been awarded as a Top Blog for Law Enforcement by California Casualty and a Top 20 Criminal Justice Blog by Excite Education.

Help CopsAlive become THE Top Law Enforcement Blog in 2012 VOTE HERE.

CopsAlive.com has received two noteworthy awards recently as a top… Continue reading

Do You Have PTSD?

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.

Get Help Now – Call “Safe Call Now” it’s confidential 206-459-3020

What is PTSD?

A brief description of the diagnostic criteria… Continue reading

Depressed About Fast Food?

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

A Gift to Cops from CopsAlive During National Police Week

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

Preparing for the Weather

Many of my peers have an annual ritual of poking fun at me in the late fall when I break out the “light” long johns or undergarments as they are referred to today. Many of the younger and inexperienced officers give me a grin when I explain the benefits of dressing appropriately when we are on duty outside or in the cruiser. They learn the hard way like I did years ago. Many sections of our town have open spaces along the roadways and state highway which comes though and nothing is more of an attention getter than freezing your tail off while working a vehicle crash, backing up another L.E.O. and other duties and you are exposed to the elements and the wind.
When you dress for duty, do you dress for the outdoors?

What if you get stuck in a situation you are outdoors like a crowd control situation, a building fire, a traffic control post, chasing a suspect or looking for a lost person?
Dressing for duty is vital for your health and well-being. Along with our ballistic vest and the issued equipment that we must wear, please consider wearing… Continue reading

The Tactical Lunch Bag: Healthy Eating-Law Enforcement Style

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

Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance Meets Their Fund Raising Goal

Thank you to all of our readers and congratulations to Deborah Louise Ortiz and everyone involved in the “Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance” film project. The producers have reached their $25,000 fund raising goal five days early. This will allow them to move forward with the completion of the film.

The film is being produced to help law enforcement officers survive the rigors of their very stressful careers. This powerful documentary explores the darker side… Continue reading

Police officers and SLEEP: “O.K. so like…What’s that?”

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.

Contributing to this problem is… Continue reading

Mental Health & Peer Support in Law Enforcement

Editors Note: In the following article Officer Jeff Watson discusses the need for integrated mental health services and appropriate peer support programs for all law enforcement officers.  Officer Watson has 12 years of civilian Law enforcement experience, and is currently working towards state licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in P.T.S.D. and Trauma. He is also currently working towards a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

Since 1974, there have only been a handful of research studies in law enforcement about peer support. Most of the studies focused on one particular department and did not encompass additional data. Growing up, I didn’t value mental health services and had several slag terms for individuals employed in the mental health profession.

I always had a sense of wanderlust and I left home as soon as I graduated. I set off to find adventure in the military and as a military veteran I assumed I had all the tools I needed to survive a career in law enforcement. I was sorely mistaken. Several years into my law enforcement career I decided to go back to college, using my G.I. Bill. While sitting in the mandatory General Psychology class, everything started to make sense. I finally started to understand the criminals we came into contact with, my coworkers and more importantly myself. That was the start of my psychological journey.

I was determined to pursue psychology as a major and went on to graduate school, majoring in Mental Health Counseling, which will eventually lead to licensure. Like those before me, my goal is to open a mental health counseling practice to focus on law enforcement and first responders. As part of my internship, I trained at a local community mental health facility where I gained clinical experience. During my time at the facility, I gained valuable insight into how a civilian organization operated and their assumptions about what law enforcement can and can’t do.

I have dedicated the last 10 years of my life as an “agent of change” in hopes to “normalize” mental health in law enforcement. Since then, I have moved to a doctorate program in education. My dissertation is to design and implement a mental health counseling program which can be embedded into any law enforcement department.

Having said that the following are things I’ve learned during my time in law enforcement. The law enforcement profession does not hold mental health professionals in high regard. Historically speaking, mental health professionals were the last stop before a law enforcement officer was fired, suspended or had their firearm officially taken from them.

The law enforcement profession frowns upon showing any form of emotion. Law enforcement officers, collectively, do not have resources to turn to when they are in need of mental health services. Law Enforcement is a male dominated career field. Contemporary society has unwritten norms about men and emotions, especially crying. As with most men, law enforcement officers are no exception. Most male law enforcement officers do not show any visible signs of weakness, which is a way of maintaining credibility with their peers.

As with any population having difficulty with emotions, law enforcement officers frequently internalize their emotions and do not seek assistance, as seeking assistance can be viewed as a sign of weakness. Due to the lack of perceived mental health support systems, there is a higher rate of suicide… Continue reading