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
Do you know the story about sheep, wolves and sheepdogs?
The Sunday morning after the Colorado theater shooting, I had the rare opportunity of enjoying a day off which fell on a Sunday. A ritual of mine is to attend church with my family. I was eager to attend this day as a woman priest who is a friend of mine was preaching for our vacationing clergy.
Chris was telling the story of the sheep, shepherds and sheepdogs. She was reminding us of the role of a sheepdog to guide the herd of sheep and how we all have a responsibility to look out for each other. There was no mention of the current events in her sermon.
At the time of peace, Chris came over to me to hug me. She whispered in my ear that it is nice to hug you without the guns in your hands. The previous Wednesday, I ran into Chris behind my police station as I was assisting our mechanic remove a shotgun and a patrol rifle from a disabled cruiser to be secured inside the station. It’s all about timing in life and unfortunately Chris and I did not get a change for a friendly hug that day. One could say my hands were full at that moment.
After the service, I had coffee with several friends including Chris. Everyone wants to know in a kind but awkward way what’s going on in our community. They want to hear that life is Utopia and sometimes I have to adjust my comments to minimize the shock and awe factor. Calling it “sugar coating” the truth or allowing my friends to enjoy their peaceful existence in their own world, I have to edit the reality of police work to my audience. Some people want the raw and powerful truth that is the reality of police work, and others want to feel safe believing in their minds that the world is safe.
Chris and I had a moment to share on her sermon and I brought to her attention the story by Lt. Col. David Grossman on the role of… 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.
Burnout or compassion fatigue has… Continue reading
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
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
A shocking incident occurred here west of Boston last week. We had our first snow storm since Mother Nature threw us for a curve with the October snow storm. Snow storms on a Saturday morning within our community mean traffic crashes, lots of them.
As I was standing on our state highway assisting at a vehicle rollover, I am surprised how we as police officers become possible hazards during these times of reduced visibility. I wore my bright high visible safety rain jacket and I have noticed recently that the firefighters are now wearing a high visibility safety vest over their turnout jackets at motor vehicle crashes and roadway incidents.
We have heard of many tragedies over the years of public safety personnel being struck by vehicles while assisting at crashes, directing traffic or staffing a road detour.
Some of these are planned operations and there is time to prepare and deploy the… Continue reading
On New Year’s Day, I received a telephone call from a good friend who is one of New York’s Finest. I will refer to him as Officer X to protect his anonymity.
Officer X wanted to talk for a while. The N.Y.P.D. recently lost a well-known police officer Peter Figoski who was murdered on duty in December. The news broke on Saturday that A.T.F. Special Agent, John Capano died while stopping a pharmacy robbery on Long Island, N.Y. Officer X was really down and frustrated with the public. His frustration was people do not respect the police or the military like they used to. The increase in violence against cops over the last several years is really starting to hit home for Officer X. Add in the fact he is approaching the 10 year point as a cop, he works the day in-day out daily grind, the tragic events and people he… Continue reading
Editors Note: Please join me in welcoming our newest contributor Sgt. Mark St. Hilaire as he leads us off for a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year!
The New Year’s Resolution: What Is YOUR Action Plan for 2012?
As I reflect back on 2011, I am a little overwhelmed thinking about the things that occurred over the past year in my life. I have experienced many changes in my agency, new commitments within my family and my community service, illnesses and the deaths of loved ones and friends, some physical changes as I approach the golden anniversary of my birth and most of all, observing and reading about law enforcement officers who self-destruct in their careers through their unusual behavior and actions on and off the job. It has been an emotionally exhausting time and I am grateful for the many training opportunities, the maintenance of my fitness-eating plan and especially my peers who helped prepare me to meet these challenges.
As this New Year begins, many people participate in the ritual of a New Year’s Resolution. Many people accept the challenge and yes, many of our resolutions succumb to an early death. I stopped making resolutions on the annual basis because I felt discouraged when I could not keep my resolutions.
In the New Year of 1996, I had been a police officer about 10 years. I weighed about 350 lbs.; I had a distorted view of my career, working nights, an adult beverage problem. I had come to the point that I was so frustrated and I was miserable… Continue reading