Sunday, March 6, 2011
Bad things happen someplace every day. They happen for a reason, but we don't always know what the reason is, but that does not change the fact that there is a reason.
Every bad thing is an opportunity for us to make things a little better. We can comfort the loved ones, we can save our partner, we can provide closure to victims, we can give advice to the troubled, we can catch the criminals. By our presence, police help to restore the peace, we are peace officers.
As a professional, you revert to your training and do the job that must be done. If you are angry, sick, upset, shocked, you try to control it and do your job. Sometimes that means you take a moment, perhaps even just one or two seconds, and say a quick prayer to God, take a deep breath, or even hold your breath for a moment and just go take care of it.
Don't be afraid to call for help. Ask advice of your sergeant, your training officer, even other officers. The department chaplain, attorney, or psychologist can help you too, sometimes at the scene and sometimes later. You are not alone, you are not the only one out there, there are plenty of others who will help you, but you have to handle your calls. They are your calls but not yours alone, you can get help, think of it as managing the scene, you don't have to do all the work, you have to coordinate it all.
The coroner does his part, the detectives do their part, child services do what they need to do. In most cases the bad things are not happening to you, so don't make their trauma your trauma. If the bad thing happens to you, a shootout, injury, citizen complaint, you still are not alone. You have doctors, attorneys, union representatives, and friends who will stand by you.
Whatever you do, don't turn to alcohol or drugs, there is no problem they don't make worse. Don't cheat on your wife, tell her about the problem, don't worry that she will not understand. You have to share your police life with her from the beginning and then when the bad things happen she will comprehend what happened and be there for you.
Firemen, soldiers, emergency room doctors all have to deal with similar situations. Go to church every Sunday. Stay off the booze. Stick with one woman. Don't spend more money than you make. Stay ethical in your behavior. Then you won't have additional outside the job stress to add to the work stress. Stay in good shape, have a few friends who are not cops, get a hobby, and remember the most important thing in your life is not your job, it is your health and your family, that's what the SGT Says.