The Visitor That Would Not Leave

How do you handle that one guest that just will not leave? I recently heard a definition for what trauma is. Trauma was defined as: when you leave the scene, but the scene does not leave you. That definition resonated with me. How many calls did I leave that did not leave me?

I know we all have scenes and calls that have not left us. Some are years old. Some are obvious. The larger scenes and the obviously tragic calls stay with us. It is expected. In my department, certain calls are expected to cause trauma such as an officer involved shooting or a line of duty death.

When something like that happens, peer support is automatically activated and… 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

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

The Shell We Wear – How Being A Cop Changes Us

Editor’s Note: Joe is a faculty member of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and recently published this article on CalibrePress.com. We are honored that he is sharing it with us as well.

Nobody leaves police work the same person as when they entered it. Moreover, being a law enforcement officer can either be the best or worse job you’ve ever had.

Like the rest of you, I’ve watched with interest the latest assaults and criticisms of police officers. After reflecting back on 38 years of police work, it now seems public sentiment is supportive of those who are seeking to restrict the ability of many police officers to protect society. The general public has little or no concept of the experiences or emotions that police officers contend with throughout their careers.

I started in law enforcement in… Continue reading

New Training Guide to Elevate Suicide Prevention Efforts within the National Law Enforcement Community

SuicidePrevDisGuideCoverNational Partnership Launches Police Suicide Prevention Facilitation Guide

At its highest levels, the national law enforcement community acknowledges suicide prevention as a health and safety priority. In 2012 there were 126 documented suicides of police officers (versus 49 killed by gunfire in the line of duty). In 2013 the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) held a forum called “Breaking the Silence: A National Symposium on Law Enforcement Office Suicide and Mental Health,” and in 2014 the IACP helped develop a video in partnership with the Carson J Spencer Foundation, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and the American Association of Suicidology entitled Breaking the Silence: Suicide Prevention in Law Enforcement (access video here: https://youtu.be/fBJbo7mnnBs). In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, and as part of an expanded collaborative effort, the partnership is releasing a video facilitation training guide for law enforcement agencies. The guide can be downloaded as a free PDF here:
http://carsonjspencer.org/files/9214/4078/2987/20150817_LE_Video_Guide.pdf

As a law enforcement officer for 30 plus years, the last eight as chief, I recognize the value of sustained, comprehensive and coordinated suicide prevention efforts for… law enforcement agencies. These tools can provide departments with an important first step in opening discussions around the sensitive issue of suicide and mental health,” said Kenosha Police Chief John Morrissey, member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Task Force. Continue reading

Heart Disease and the Law Enforcement Officer

By: Jonathan Sheinberg, MD, FACC Cedar Park Police Department

EDITORS NOTE: Dr. Jon Sheinberg is Board Certified Cardiologist and he is a sworn officer in the State of Texas. He is working hard to learn more about and fight heart disease in law enforcement. We conducted an interview with Dr. Sheinberg and are honored to publish his article.

DrJonSheinberg

As a fellow Law Enforcement Officer and a physician I am trying to spread the word. We are missing the boat, and because of this, we are dying. There is a simple reason that law enforcement officers have some of the best pensions in the country – we do not live long enough after retirement to fully collect them. Several programs have been created to address premature officer death and officer safety is a primary concern for every agency whether on the local, state or federal level. Police officers and Special Agents are intimately aware of safety policy and procedure requirements: wear reflective vests, always use body armor, do not engage in high- speed pursuits for low-level crimes etc. Despite these efforts however, there is another cause of officer death and disability that is usually overlooked – cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease is a major problem for law enforcement!

Heart attacks are always in the top two or three categories of police line of duty deaths. However, if extrapolated to a full 24-hour day, heart attack likely becomes the number one killer of men and women in uniform. This is not new information. More than 20 years ago, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published some of their initial data (Violanti, 2013). The data are shocking. The life expectancy of a police officer is 20 years less than his or her civilian counterpart. Continue reading

PTSD Can Attack Years Later by Allen Kates

Jonathan-FigueroaPTSD Can Attack Years Later
Even With No Previous Symptoms

EDITORS NOTE: This article has been graciously provided by Allen R. Kates, BCECR, MFAW the Author of CopShock, Second Edition: Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t think,
I feel sick. I can’t do this anymore.”

Can you develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) months or even years after a traumatic event like 9/11? Without showing any previous symptoms?

There are studies of World War II veterans and victims of motor vehicle accidents that say Yes.

This phenomenon is called “delayed onset PTSD,” according to the therapist’s diagnostic bible known as the DSM-IV-TR. It states that symptoms first appear at least six months after the traumatic event. That could mean months or even years later.

Yet some mental health professionals argue that the individual must have had symptoms early on, but didn’t recognize them. They also suggest that the PTSD sufferer delayed getting help for months or years, not that the PTSD itself was delayed.

Nevertheless, many law enforcement officers with no obvious previous symptoms do develop PTSD months or even years after a traumatic event.

As an example of delayed onset PTSD, here is the story of a police officer that developed the disorder five years after 9/11 and what he did about it… Continue reading

Law Enforcement Is A Family Commitment

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 12.30.27 PMEDITORS NOTE: Law enforcement cannot function effectively without the support of the family members who stand behind our professionals, and our police families might be the best “early warning system” for when our officers are suffering in silence. This article was provided by guest contributor Dea Bridge who has been married to a Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) for over 25 years, worked in Corrections, served as a volunteer Reserve Police Officer.

Law Enforcement is truly a family affair!

Society is routinely exposed to the mass media’s version of law enforcement via movies, cop shows, or news reports.  These Hollywood depictions are the only frames of reference the general public has for how individuals in this line of work should behave or how they think.  It’s no wonder many civilians (non-LEOs) have a skewed perception of the challenges faced by LEOs and their families.  While some have a more tailored glimpse of “cop life” based on personal relationships or past experiences, the majority has no realistic basis for their interpretations.  For simplicity sake in this article, Law Enforcement Officers will be collectively referred to as LEOs and also include Corrections Officers.  It should be noted that agency support staff, Dispatchers in particular, and other types of emergency service workers (Firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics) face many of the same challenges as LEOs.  This grouping is not meant to minimize the trials faced by any one category, but rather to highlight the commonalities among people who strive to make our communities a better place to live.

Resources aimed at helping LEOs cope with the unique rigors of their professions are more abundant now than at any other time in history.  To a lesser degree, but increasing, is information specifically designed to aid family member’s with their own set of challenges.  Organizational attitudes of… Continue reading

Thank You Kevin Gilmartin

esflebookcoverIn the United States it’s time to celebrate our holiday of Thanksgiving whose tradition has roots to a feast of thanksgiving for a good harvest in Plymouth Colony Massachusetts in 1621, but now is utilized by many as a way to acknowledge all that we are grateful for in our modern lives.

By way of acknowledging what we in law enforcement should be grateful for, beyond the fact that we go home alive every day, I am, as you should be, truly grateful to Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D. for all that he has done over the last several decades to bring to light all the issues about emotional survival in law enforcement. Without his lighting the path I don’t think any of us would be any closer to understanding what happens inside the psyche of this profession.

Gratitude should be an important concept in what we do today in law enforcement. If we seek it, we should be able to role-model it. Gratitude is an important building block of self-respect and community strength.

If you would like to consider what you are thankful for today CLICK HERE to download our CopsAlive Gratitude Worksheet.

Thanks are also due to Allen R. Kates, MFAW, BCECR for bringing the concept of “CopShock” and PTSD to the forefront of our minds as well as to Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D. for her loving and compassionate reminder that we are only as strong as the family that supports us in her book “I Love A Cop”.

Thanks are due to Joseph Wambaugh… Continue reading

Law Enforcement Officer Fatigue is a Critical Issue

EDITORS NOTE: The following article was brought to us by David Blake M.Sc and Edward Cumella PhD. about their research into law enforcement fatigue in relation to deadly force encounters. This subject if of vital importance to law enforcement officers and agencies around the world. We hope that you will engage in the conversation and bring the discussion back to your agencies.

Officer Fatigue and Officer Involved Shootings (OIS) – A deadly combination for error!

By: David Blake M.Sc and Edward Cumella PhD.

Law enforcement data indicate that officers frequently suffer from high levels of fatigue due to lack of sleep, unusual shift schedules, and long hours awake. Research confirms that fatigue impairs a person’s mental functioning, especially in areas such as decision making, reaction time, and memory. Yet little study has directly investigated fatigue’s impacts on officers’ performance in police specific tasks, particularly in deadly force situations.

A first of its kind study

A recent study conducted by me; David Blake, MSc., a retired police officer, and Edward Cumella, PhD, a professor of psychology at Kaplan University, has finally addressed this issue. Our ground breaking research examined fatigue’s effects on 53 officers’ decision making and reaction times when the officers were faced with deadly force situations. Officers completed online tasks both before and after each of their shifts, for one week. Records included a history of their sleep patterns, total hours slept, total hours awake, shifts worked, and sleep quality. Officers were then engaged in a series of simulated shoot/don’t shoot scenarios using pictures of potential targets, targets that use of force experts had previously classified as warranting either a shoot or don’t shoot response, or as ambiguous.

Dr. Cumella and I found that many fatigue measures correlated strongly with officers’ impaired decision making and slowed reaction times within the deadly force situations. In particular, poor sleep quality, greater total time awake, more days worked, and working night or swing shifts all decreased the accuracy of officers’ decisions to shoot or… Continue reading