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

Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance Meets Their Fund Raising Goal

Thank you to all of our readers and congratulations to Deborah Louise Ortiz and everyone involved in the “Code 9 Officer Needs Assistance” film project. The producers have reached their $25,000 fund raising goal five days early. This will allow them to move forward with the completion of the film.

The film is being produced to help law enforcement officers survive the rigors of their very stressful careers. This powerful documentary explores the darker side… Continue reading

Mental Health & Peer Support in Law Enforcement

Editors Note: In the following article Officer Jeff Watson discusses the need for integrated mental health services and appropriate peer support programs for all law enforcement officers.  Officer Watson has 12 years of civilian Law enforcement experience, and is currently working towards state licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in P.T.S.D. and Trauma. He is also currently working towards a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

Since 1974, there have only been a handful of research studies in law enforcement about peer support. Most of the studies focused on one particular department and did not encompass additional data. Growing up, I didn’t value mental health services and had several slag terms for individuals employed in the mental health profession.

I always had a sense of wanderlust and I left home as soon as I graduated. I set off to find adventure in the military and as a military veteran I assumed I had all the tools I needed to survive a career in law enforcement. I was sorely mistaken. Several years into my law enforcement career I decided to go back to college, using my G.I. Bill. While sitting in the mandatory General Psychology class, everything started to make sense. I finally started to understand the criminals we came into contact with, my coworkers and more importantly myself. That was the start of my psychological journey.

I was determined to pursue psychology as a major and went on to graduate school, majoring in Mental Health Counseling, which will eventually lead to licensure. Like those before me, my goal is to open a mental health counseling practice to focus on law enforcement and first responders. As part of my internship, I trained at a local community mental health facility where I gained clinical experience. During my time at the facility, I gained valuable insight into how a civilian organization operated and their assumptions about what law enforcement can and can’t do.

I have dedicated the last 10 years of my life as an “agent of change” in hopes to “normalize” mental health in law enforcement. Since then, I have moved to a doctorate program in education. My dissertation is to design and implement a mental health counseling program which can be embedded into any law enforcement department.

Having said that the following are things I’ve learned during my time in law enforcement. The law enforcement profession does not hold mental health professionals in high regard. Historically speaking, mental health professionals were the last stop before a law enforcement officer was fired, suspended or had their firearm officially taken from them.

The law enforcement profession frowns upon showing any form of emotion. Law enforcement officers, collectively, do not have resources to turn to when they are in need of mental health services. Law Enforcement is a male dominated career field. Contemporary society has unwritten norms about men and emotions, especially crying. As with most men, law enforcement officers are no exception. Most male law enforcement officers do not show any visible signs of weakness, which is a way of maintaining credibility with their peers.

As with any population having difficulty with emotions, law enforcement officers frequently internalize their emotions and do not seek assistance, as seeking assistance can be viewed as a sign of weakness. Due to the lack of perceived mental health support systems, there is a higher rate of suicide… 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

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

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

Thank You to Law Enforcement Everywhere!

On this Thanksgiving day in the United States we say thank you to all law enforcement professionals around the world.  Thank you to all the police officers, sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, detectives, parole officers, probation officers, SWAT team members, traffic cops, police supervisors, law enforcement managers, and police chiefs from around the world.  Thank you for all that you do to protect and serve our communities and make the world a better place.

We also want to thank and recognize all of those people who support, love and encourage law enforcement officers.  Thank you to all the police wives and police husbands, police mom’s… Continue reading

A Stress Management Prescription for Law Enforcement and Police Officers

Stress and all the physiological impacts it has upon a law enforcement officer’s body and mind are a major contributing factor to many of the ills that befall police officers and other law enforcement professionals.  Even though this article is written using the term police officer, it isn’t meant to exclude other law enforcement professionals like deputy sheriffs, corrections officers, parole officers, probation officers, DA’s investigators, dispatchers, CSI’s, code enforcement officers, wildlife officers, park rangers, etc.  The problems of stress seem inherent in the law enforcement profession in general and no one seems immune to its toxic effects.

The Law Enforcement Survival Institute offers a prescription for law enforcement stress management called “Rx3x”.  The prescription (Rx) is for stress management activities three times (3x) a day.  The Rx3x process calls for a combination of mind and body exercises to reduce and manage excessive stress on days when a law enforcement officer or other professional is working.  The process calls for:

1. A Physical Fitness Workout of 30-45 min each day focused upon building strength and aerobic fitness;
2.  A Buffer Workout for Stress Reduction (20-30 min) between the work and home transition; and
3.  A Stress Management Session (20-30 min) later in the day focused upon reducing mental stress.

A career in law enforcement can become very toxic… 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

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: http://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:
http://www.thepainbehindthebadge.com/seminar.html