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

Take Care of Our Own

I recently had the pleasure to talk with Chris Allen the President of Hunting For Heroes a unique organization that is helping disabled police officers connect with other officers in similar situations and give back to them some hope, some joy and even in some cases a sense of purpose again.

Founded in 2010 by two active duty law enforcement officers, Hunting For Heroes (H4H) reaches out to officers across the country to connect them with other officers who have sustained life altering injuries. H4H provides a hunting camp environment where officers and their families are able to step away from daily struggles and enjoy time outdoors.

Hunting for Heroes actually began as hunting television show. The founders, Chris Allen and Chuck Bowles, were police officers in the St. Louis, Missouri area and were both avid hunters. They were working on a hunting television show working with both the law enforcement and police angles. As the show concept was being developed, the talk of hosting a charity hunt was presented.

We then began to search out those organizations that were taking care of our disabled law enforcement officers. Only to find out there were NONE. We could not find one organization that was providing services specifically… Continue reading

Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance

This is just the trailer for “Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance” a new film being produced to help law enforcement officers survive the rigors of their very stressful careers. This powerful documentary explores the darker side of law enforcement as it documents the stories of police officers and their families who are now suffering the mental anguish of the careers they chose, which has led some to suicide.

You can find the above trailer or make a donation to help them finish the film by CLICKING HERE Note: Their Kickstarter campaign is an ALL OR NOTHING campaign and what that means is if they do not reach their goal of raising $25,000 dollars by March 3rd then they will not receive any of the money pledged. And that any one who makes a pledge will not be charged for their pledge unless they meet their fundraising goal. If they don’t reach their goal, then you will never be charged

One of the film’s producers, Deborah Louise Ortiz, is the wife of a retired state trooper. When her husband retired from his 22 year law enforcement career all of their dreams of how his retirement would and should be turned into nightmares. Little did they know that his years on the job would transform into the demons he still battles today. Deborah says that she did not understand what was happening to him and watching his downward spiral was heart wrenching and it has torn their family apart. After much pain and family trauma they now know that he suffers from job related Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

His story has inspired… Continue reading

Two NIJ Studies on Shift Length, Sleep Disorders and Police Officer Wellness

U.S. NIJ STUDY SHOWS THAT 10-HOUR WORK SHIFTS OFFER BENEFITS
OVER THE TRADITIONALLY USED 8-HOUR SHIFT

Shift length most beneficial to officers may also save money

This week, the U.S. National Institute of Justice released findings from two new studies that have implications for improving police officer wellness and work life. The Shift Length Experiment showed that the length of an officer’s work shift has a significant impact on their wellness; a 10-hour work shift offers a number of benefits over the commonly used 8-hour shift, including that officers get more sleep. This report is released on the heels of Sleep Disorders, Health, and Safety in Police Officers finding that 40 percent of officers studied had at least one sleep disorder. Sleep disorders are associated with an increased risk… Continue reading

Critical Incident Stress Management

Editors Note: The following is an article from Robert F. Rabe who has 38 years of Law enforcement experience, and has been involved in Critical Incident Stress Management for over 20 years.

A college professor once asked the class, “how heavy is a glass of water?”  The professor received several answers but the professor replied, “the weight doesn’t matter, it depends on long you try to hold it…the longer you hold it the heavier it becomes…that is until you put it down and rest.”  Stress is the same way.  If we carry stress especially after a critical incident the stress can become increasingly heavy, if not dealt with properly.  The stress may lead to a crisis.  According to the Chinese symbol for crisis it is made up from two other symbols which are danger and opportunity (see graphic on this page).  We can collapse under the weight of the crisis (danger) or we can learn to develop new skills (opportunity) to meet it head on.  Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell is the founder of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.  In the early 1980’s, Dr. Mitchell, who was a firefighter/paramedic, found that after a critical incident, his peers demonstrated difficulty coping with the stress.  He studied their reactions and developed CISM, which is now a worldwide program. The purpose of this article is to provide to help law enforcement personnel, better understand and cope with reactions following involvement in critical incidents.

CRITICAL INCIDENT STRESS MANAGEMENT
CISM is a comprehensive, organized approach for the reduction… Continue reading

Our Honorable Profession

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

We Need This Phone Number

There have been too many stories in the news lately of cops gone bad.  Let’s create a better system to support and help them before this happens again.

Make a two-fold “True Blue” commitment in 2012.  One is to work diligently to reduce the number of officers killed in the line of duty, and secondly, to work to save the many officers that are suffering emotionally and faltering professionally.  Here is an excellent resource: The Safe Call Now hotline for first responders.  Let’s also Protect and Serve our own this year!

Memorize it and post it wherever you can: Safe Call Now 206-459-3020

Learn more from this KIRO TV Ch7 Story. CLICK HERE to watch the video.

CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival. We invite you… Continue reading

What Is YOUR Tactical Action Plan for 2012?

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

May There Be Peace on Earth in the Last Days of 2011

To the peace officers serving their communities all around the world we salute you and say thank you!  May you experience Peace On Earth and stay safe to enjoy the holidays with your families.

For those of you who don’t find peace, steel yourselves as the world needs your courage and strength.

For those of you who are in law enforcement and are having a difficult holiday season, please know that there are a lot of people around the world that need you, and so do your brothers and sisters in law enforcement.

If things become too difficult please remember that you can always telephone “Safe Call Now” at 206-459-3020 where you can talk to someone who understands… Continue reading

The Police PTSD Paradox

The Problems with Police PTSD – A Call for Comments

Editors Note: This is a very important topic to law enforcement officers all  around the world.  Please leave your comments in the box below so we can start a dialogue on this very important issue.

We have a Police PTSD Crisis: “Take care of our own” v.s. “Throwaway Cops”

We have a problem in our profession.  It has to do with excessive stress caused by the job of law enforcement and, in it’s extreme form, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  We all know that the stress from this job can be toxic and at times debilitating.  What we don’t seem to believe is that it can happen to us, or someone we work with, because when it does, we don’t know what to do about it.   We seem to have created a paradox, which is a contradiction or a situation that seems to defy logic or intuition.

The Police PTSD Paradox is created by… Continue reading