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
Recently, we were in Washington D.C. attending a banquet called Honoring the Service of Law Enforcement Officers Who Died by Suicide. This first time banquet was held in conjunction with National Police Week and was sponsored by BLUE H.E.L.P. Its purpose was to honor and recognize the service of offices who made that fateful decision and their survivors. It is Blue HELP’s mission to put names and faces to the men and women of Law Enforcement whose emotional injuries become too much to bear. Although the number of Law Enforcement personnel who take their own lives typically exceeds… 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
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
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
Over the past 18 years it has been my privilege to design and provide training for law enforcement officers in Spiritual Survival. My training addresses a very specific aspect of the law enforcement experience: the spiritual dimension. Spiritual Survival training is, I believe, a crucial aspect of training to help officers successfully negotiate the challenges of a law enforcement career. The goal is to help officers recognize and acknowledge the noble idealism and integrity within the human spirit that brings them into the career. It is this human spirit that can keep them devoted to their law enforcement mission, with all its challenges, disappointments and difficulties. My aim is to help them identify the toxins that daily deplete and exhaust their spirit, equip them with tools to nourish and replenish their precious idealism and integrity, and renew their commitment to faithful performance of their law enforcement mission.
Often, when police chiefs hear that I offer training for “Spiritual Survival,” they reassure me that their agencies already have chaplaincy services, so their agencies don’t need the spiritual survival training I offer. That’s when I gently explain that the two support structures, chaplaincy and Spiritual Survival training, are not the same.
Chaplaincy services inspire strong reaction – avid advocates and suspicious detractors. A common story among law enforcement executives tells of a skilled, dedicated chaplain who intervened to save a cop in distress; others regale me with anecdotes of chaplains who overstepped their bounds and trespassed into the realm of proselytizing. But in all cases I unequivocally assure law enforcement executives that Spiritual Survival training is not equivalent to chaplaincy.
Indeed, chaplaincy and Spiritual Survival training both support officers and agencies, and ought to be complementary. But they each have profoundly different goals.
REACTIVE BENEFICIARY OR PROACTIVE PARTICIPANT
The greatest distinction between chaplaincy and Spiritual Survival training is this: Chaplaincy is reactive by its nature, whereas Spiritual Survival training is proactive. Even more significant is the fact that officers who receive chaplaincy services are… 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
First responders and public safety workers experience repeated exposure to trauma through their work. This can have a lasting impact on mental well-being and puts these men at increased risk. As a result of career-related stress, first responders and public safety workers often face… Continue reading
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