Police Officer Builds a New Life after Suicide Attempt

CopsAlive was honored this week to be able to interview a police officer who attempted suicide and survived, and has maintained their career. This is critical to our discussion about wellness in law enforcement because we have a problem in our industry that we need to fix. Statistics indicate that somewhere between 2-6 times more officers kill themselves each year than are murdered in the line of duty. Police officer suicides are an issue that is long overdue for serious discussion within our profession.

It seems that the person who is best suited to describe this problem is someone who has been there, and lived through the depression leading up to a suicide attempt. Officer Kathleen Graves of the Seattle Police Department is just such a person, who after a lifetime of battling chronic pain, an addiction to pain killers, and bouts with depression, attempted to take her own life a little over a year ago. She created an elaborate plan to give away all of her worldly belongings, including her beloved dog, and even checked into a hotel room under an assumed name. She chose a hotel outside of her own jurisdiction to avoid traumatizing her peers, then she took a massive amount of pain killers. When she realized she hadn’t died, she took even more pills but was found by her rescuers before they could kill her. Her story is fascinating, and even more crucial for other officers to hear, because she was rescued, despite her own efforts to hide from her rescuers, and has been able to rebuild her life and her career. It is a remarkable story of tragedy and triumph. It is also a great starting point for an informed discussion about police officer suicides.

You can CLICK the play button here to listen to our 55 minute interview:

Or you can download the 10 MB mp3 file by using a RIGHT CLICK HERE to start the download (that’s CONTROL CLICK if you use a Mac then SAVE LINK AS…) of a copy of the mp3 file.

In our interview you will hear Officer Graves, a 14 year veteran, talk about her battles with chronic pain; her struggle with depression (a condition faced by many police veterans) and her feeling of burnout. She describes… Continue reading

Treatment for Cops and Dispatchers in Crisis

I had the opportunity last week to interview Richard Worthy the president of both the Summer Sky and the soon to open Eagle Force Academy at Serenity Ranch, a unique facility exclusively dedicated to the treatment of local, state and federal commissioned peace officers and dispatchers suffering from the career endangering and often deadly disease of alcohol and/or drug dependency and co-occurring disorders like PTSD. We were both participating in the first Safe Call Now Public Safety Conference and had a chance to sit down afterward and talk about what Eagle Force Academy at Serenity Ranch can do for those in need of treatment.

You can listen to our 39 minute interview which was recorded in the church where the conference was held by clicking here:

Eagle Force Academy at Serenity Ranch (EFA), is a 32 -bed inpatient facility located on a secluded 147 acre ranch in the Hills of Central Texas near the Town of Evant, and is scheduled to open in January of 2011. It will be a working ranch replete with longhorn steers, horses, goats and sheep that greet one as they enter the serenity of the ranch.

Their affiliated facility, Summer Sky in Stephenville Texas, is a 72-bed facility which has treated thousands of patients (adults and adolescents, males and females) for alcohol/drug dependency/abuse and co-occurring disorders since 1985. Summer Sky is available for the treatrment of officer’s spouses and children who may be suffering with addiction issues.

When it opens Eagle Force Academy (EFA) Treatment Center will treat only police officers and dispatchers and they will use Summer Sky for treatment of police family members if needed. As Richard told me this is for police officers and dispatchers if you are “Hired, Fired or Retired” and is meant to be a focused facility working only with these two groups when it opens in January.

Most importantly Eagle Force Academy will be a reasonably priced “for profit” business, but will work with you so that money is not a barrier to treatment. They will accept private pay and most major insurance and can facilitate 3rd party financing for qualified patients.

Further, distance is not an issue as EFA will offer FREE NATIONWIDE PATIENT TRANSPORT VIA GROUND AND/OR AIR to and from the Killeen/Ft. Hood Regional Airport which is just 1 hour away with… Continue reading

Is Yoga a Four Letter Word to Cops?

Let me introduce you to Nick Manci, a yoga instructor from Portland Oregon who wants to to help cops deal with their stress through yoga.

Nick’s form of yoga is a little more aggressive than the most common forms practiced in studios and classes because he says he is very in touch with the male energy that is common in law enforcement agencies.

The practice of Yoga is estimated to be over 5000 years old and traces it’s roots back in time to an origin in India. Many sources recommend yoga as stress management for police officers.

Currently, it is estimated that there are about 30 million people in America, and 1 million people in the United Kingdom practicing hatha yoga. Yoga (in the West) is an exercise-related and posture-related technique that involves gentle stretching, breath control and meditation.

According to Nick “The One Breath concept is a tool to systematically eradicate physical, psychological and emotional suffering that resides in the body caused by habit, addiction, situational stress, or past trauma. We do this by… Continue reading

Police Beatings: Balancing Anarchy and Tyranny

A Seattle police officer punched a woman in the face after detaining a woman for jay walking.  The officer tried to detain the woman but she refused to cooperate by pulling away.  As she resisted, the officer grabbed her and struggled as she pulled away.  This continued as an angry crowd began to circle the officer.

Soon a second woman entered the scene and pushed the officer to help her resisting friend.  The officer immediately reacted by punching the second woman in the face, removing her from the picture while he continued struggling with the first woman.  This obviously upset the crowd and also excited a negative reaction toward the officer from the normally pro police — Bill O’Reilly.

Surprisingly, this type of incident is similar to those that provoke most citizen complaints and law suits against law enforcement.  For the most part, it isn’t the shootings or other more seemingly serious incidents that draw… Continue reading

Pain Behind The Badge Seminars

The Pain Behind The Badge organization has a number of upcoming seminars.  I will be attending the seminar in Las Vegas and you are encouraged to attend any of these that you can.  This is excellent training about the issues of law enforcement suicide and the prevention of those police officer suicides.  Whether you work in law enforcement, corrections, probation or parole or you represent a law enforcement agency this is “must attend” training for you.

Editors Note: You can learn more about Sgt. Clarke Paris and The Pain Behind the Badge organization by reading our CopsAlive.com article about them and listening to our interview with Sgt. Paris at: https://www.copsalive.com/the-pain-behind-the-badge/

October 7 & 8, 2010
Grossman Paris Seminar, Las Vegas, NV
Special Seminar combined with Retired LT. Col. Dave Grossman

Colonel Dave Grossman will present his ‘Bullet Proof Mind ‘ program on October 7th and on October 8th, Clarke Paris will present his ‘The Pain Behind The Badge’ program.

Sgt. Clarke Paris is the Creator/Producer of The Pain Behind The Badge and has 24 years of experience as a police officer.

Retired LT. Colonel Dave Grossman was an Army Ranger and is a former West Point Psychology Professor. Now the director of Killology Research Group, he has published several books to include ’On Killing’, ‘Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill’, and ‘On Combat’.

October 11 & 12, 2010
The Pain Behind the Badge Seminar, Houston, TX

The Pain Behind The Badge Seminar is presented by Clarke and Tracie Paris, and was created to bridge the gap that exists between law enforcement officers and the help that is currently provided by their respective agencies. Clarke is the Creator/Producer of The Pain Behind The Badge and has 24 years of experience as a police officer. Tracie has been a Registered Nurse for 25 years and has experience in E.R./Trauma and Ambulatory Care.

October 18 & 19, 2010
The Pain Behind the Badge Seminar, Seattle, WA

The Pain Behind The Badge Seminar is presented by Clarke and Tracie Paris, and was created to bridge the gap that exists between law enforcement officers and the help that is currently provided by their respective agencies. Clarke is the Creator/Producer of The Pain Behind The Badge and has 24 years of experience as a police officer. Tracie has been a Registered Nurse for 25 years and has experience in E.R./Trauma and Ambulatory Care.

For more information visit:

Police Officer Health and the “Type D” Personality

There has been a lot of discussion in the media lately about the increased heart attack risk of people with “Type -D” personalities.  An article about a recent study (actually a compilation of 19 studies) was published in the September 2010 issue of the journal “Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes” published by the American Heart Association.

Type D stands for “Distressed” and from what I have found it is characterized by traits like: “a tendency to experience negative emotions,’ including depressed mood, anxiety, anger, and hostile feelings.” which sounds to me like most cops.

“Type D patients tend to experience increased levels of anxiety, irritation, and depressed mood across situations and time, while not sharing these emotions with others because of fear of disapproval,” researcher Viola Spek, PhD, of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, said in a news release.

“The analysis revealed that heart patients with a Type D personality had a three-fold increased risk for future cardiovascular problems, such as peripheral artery disease, angioplasty or bypass procedures, heart failure, heart transplantation, heart attack or death.”

Does that sound like you?  It does sound like me and most of the cops I know.

Reported By Jennifer Warner and Reviewed by Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC of WebMD Health News found”
“Although the reasons for higher risk among Type D patients are not clear, the researchers note that Type D personalities appear to respond differently to stress. This may increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood  and may be related to higher levels of inflammation. Type D personalities may also be less likely to get regular checkups or communicate well with their doctors.”

Again, does that sound like you?  Type D or not cops are at a higher risk of heart attack than the general population and we need to start doing something about it.

You may have heard about the research that John D. Violanti, PhD reported on last year while working with the Officers of the Buffalo, New York, Police Department.

Dr. Violanti is… Continue reading

Wellness Advice From A 30 Year Veteran of Law Enforcement

I met Chuck Wright at the Springbrook Law Enforcement Wellness Summit a couple of months back and was very impressed by the vast amount of wisdom and experience he had accumulated in a law enforcement career that spanned over 30 years and is continuing today as he works with the first responder hotline “Safe Call Now“. I wanted you to share in some of that wisdom so I conducted a telephone interview with Chuck and was completely impressed with the quality of the stress management tips he had to offer other law enforcement officers.

In our interview Chuck, a 30 year veteran of law enforcement who served as both a parole and probation officer for the State of Washington and who is also a licensed mental health professional, told me about his background and also the challenges he faced during his career. He started as a probation/parole officer and early in his career became a licensed mental health professional. He began working with sexual and violent offenders and eventually worked with over 10,000 of them. He has also become an expert in working with law enforcement officers who have to cope with the stress of working with the worst of the worst offenders. Because of his expertise in this and other areas of mental health, he was chosen to work on the Task Force to find the Green River Serial Killer Gary Ridgeway. After Ridgeway’s arrest in 2001, nearly 20 years after the first murder, he confessed to 48 murders, more confirmed murders than any other serial killer in American history.

Because of this work Chuck was asked to address the FBI Academy about issues surrounding the stress effects to investigators working… Continue reading

As a Police Officer How Would You Handle PTSD, or a Disability, or Both?

Chris Dobratz has had to deal with both.  In our CopsAlive interview with former Police Detective Sergeant Christian Dobratz, an 18 year veteran of law enforcement, who was forced to retire on a disability we discuss how he successfully navigated a severe case of PTSD and then went on to a forced disability retirement because of an old back injury.  He is now an Assistant Professor of Law Enforcement, Department of Government at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

I met Chris when he traveled to my home state of Colorado to be part of a Stress Management for Law Enforcement Seminar that was being presented by CopsAlive Contributor Lisa Wimberger of Trance Personnel Consulting Group (TPCG).

Chris and a very diverse career with work at both the county sheriff level and within a municipal police department.  In his career he worked as a deputy sheriff,  a patrol officer, detective, worked on a drug task force, and medically retired as a police sergeant.  During his career he battled a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder… Continue reading

Excellent Webcast on “Survivor’s Guilt” from C.O.P.S.

Earlier today I sat in on an excellent webcast put on by the National Concerns of Police Survivors organization on “Survivor Guilt and It’s Effect on Coworkers”.  The presenters: Kirk Clark and Linda Moon Gregory did an excellent job with a very difficult subject.  I encourage you to page down in this article to find a link to the replay of their broadcast.

Kirk Clark retired from the Jacksonville (Fla.) Police Department after an undercover drug operation left his partner dead and him with multiple gunshot wounds. Clark returned from the brink with the help of COPS, for which he now serves as president for the northeast Florida chapter. He is the recipient of the Purple Heart from… Continue reading

CopsAlive Named in “Top 50 Criminal Justice Blogs”

CopsAlive has received another honor by being added to the list of Top 50 Criminal Justice Blogs.

The list is maintained by the Criminal Justice Degree Schools and can be found at:

Thank you all for your continued support!

Please remember CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence.

We do this by Helping Law Enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful lives on the job and beyond. We think the best strategy is for each officer to create a tactical plan for their own life and career.

The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) works with individuals and organizations to help them create and sustain success in their lives and careers as law enforcement professionals. It is the primary goal of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute to become the preeminent source for training, resources and information about how to create and sustain a happy, healthy and successful life and career while providing superior law enforcement service to your community.