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

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

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

My Journey by Julie Zielinski

EDITORS NOTE: This time of year can be tough for cops and other emergency responders just like everyone in society. It’s hard to think about suicides, but maybe this is the best time for us to look after our health as well as that of our peers. Julie Zielinski is a Law Enforcement Survival Institute faculty member who lost her Sheriff’s Deputy son to a completed suicide. Julie now writes and teaches about suicide prevention for law enforcement professionals. As the new edition of her book Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors is released she reflects upon her journey. Read to the end of the article to find our free CopsAlive suicide prevention resources that you can activate in your agency TODAY!

My Journey 2017

On June 1, 2005, my 27 year old son, Matthew Zielinski, took his life due to a failed relationship. At the time he was a Chelan County Sheriff Deputy in Washington State, who had achieved this dream job eleven months earlier. Obviously, it was devastating to my family and I but more about my journey later.

This tragic event has birthed in me a passion to learn everything I can about suicide prevention in law enforcement. Through research, attending conferences, and contact with experts in the field it appears that deaths by suicide in law enforcement are 2-3 times greater than line of duty deaths (LOD) nationwide. This is astounding yet little is being done by law enforcement agencies to spend more time with mental health issues including suicide prevention. In fact, cover-up is common.

It is essential that… Continue reading

Hows Your Spirit?

So, How’s Your Spirit?

We talk a lot in law enforcement about having a strong will or inner spirit. We discuss being warriors or being brave and true, but do we really ever take time to analyze or decide if those things are true? Do we ever spend any time cultivating a true, written code of our behavior?

A lot of global history talks about the Way of the Warrior and the Code of Chivalry. If we are indeed modern Warriors should we not be driven by those same kinds of codes?

My question for you is that if you don’t have one of those kinds of doctrines in writing then the best person to write it is you! I’ll give you a head start here but… 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

Officers Need Your Prayers

During this season of sacred and religious holidays around the globe police officers everywhere need your prayers and support.

I attended a prayer vigil this morning outside Denver General Hospital in support of Denver Police Officer John Adsit. Officer Adsit, a nine year veteran of the department, along with three other Denver PD officers where injured while riding bicycle patrol to escort a group of Denver East High School students who wanted to protest the Grand Jury verdict on the police shooting in Ferguson Missouri that took the life of Michael Brown.

The four Denver officers were escorting a group of approx. 500 high school students who were marching down a busy Denver street in protest of the Ferguson Grand Jury’s acquittal of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. All four bike officers were hit by a vehicle that went out of control after the driver suffered a medical emergency. Three of the officers were treated and released from the hospital but Officer Adsit is still in critical condition over two weeks after being hit by the vehicle. He has undergone numerous surgeries and has been battling infection and pneumonia.

adsitfamilyPlease support the men and women of the Denver Police Department and the Adsit family as they pray for the quick recovery of Officer John Adsit.

I raise this issue for two reasons. First, this officer and his family need your prayers and secondly the citizens of the United States need to recognize that this officer was injured protected the rights of people who were protesting against the police. I’m sure when he recovers Officer Adsit would do it all over again. That’s because he is just one of hundreds of thousands of heroes that serve their communities around the world in the role of law enforcement… 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