Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crisis epidemic . . .

When one of my colleagues committed suicide over the holidays I posted this. Now belatedly the people I work with have realized the big picture. Since my date of hire 4 years ago, our department has had 2 suicide attempts while on duty and 10 people go out on "stress evaluation leave." Only 3 of those 10 have returned to duty. 2 officers have walked in to the brass, put their service weapon on the desk and stated: "I'm going to quit or I'm going to kill myself." All but 3 of these incidents have happened within the last year.

My administration is clueless. "What problem?" Like your employees running like lemmings to a cliff isn't a big enough clue something is wrong. More and more officers are expressing signs of stress; yet we are told to do more with less.

This week a man who trained me, joked with me and cried with me simply walked off the job. He walked into the Captain's office laid his equipment and his paperwork on the desk and left. Again I'm left with the feeling of "What did I miss?" Surely to God we should have noticed something in a man we worked with every night, drank with and talked to every day. I hope he's happy in a world far from law enforcement and corrections. I hope we can stop the trend, our lives depend on it. Only thing is, how do you fight a monster you can't see?


  1. BB, I also walked in to the Chief's office and quit, but I did it over twenty years ago. 14 years in law enforcement turned me into a bitter, racist, uncaring person, too ready to hit first (and not ask questions at all), getting drunk every night after work, the whole nine yards. In those days, we didn't have CISD teams or anything else useful - we were expected to suck it up. My career -- a career that I loved (at the beginning) and was proud of -- turned me into something I wasn't, and didn't want to be. It killed my marriage to a wonderful lady, it killed a subsequent relationship with another wonderful lady, and it almost killed me. I realized one night I was sitting on the bed with my gun in my mouth. Nope, for $24K, it wasn't worth it.

    It's taken me more than 20 years to get back to where I was before I went on.

    And now I look at some LEOs, and I see a bunch of "Oathkeepers," who claim for themselves the right to judge the rest of us, a bunch of violent thugs who use Tasers on those who don't instantly comply, a bunch of Sovereign Citizen-types who decry all taxes, yet get paid from those same taxes.

    I'm glad I'm out.

    And I'd be willing to bet there are some pretty vitriolic (if not outright violent) comments ahead, in response to this.

  2. Aack. First you hit the administration upside the head with a clue-by-four, then you work from there. I'm guessing you're getting more pressure than support from them. Maybe someone will see the end of the year stats and ring an alarm bell. I don't suppose you have a union that can do anything? They're better at pay raises than changes in attitude, though.

    My sincere sympathies. That sucks. And you're right, there's no simple way to fix it.

  3. My training officer quoted Joseph Wambaugh in that, "a policeman only needed three things to succeed: common sense, a sense of humor and compassion. That none of these could be taught in a college classroom and that the most important men could succeed without one of the three, but a policeman never could." He went on to describe these dark things that happen when we lose our sense of humor.
    Good luck to you and your crew.

  4. Sometimes the administration has their heads in the sand about the mental health of their employees. I had a job (not law enforcement) 6 years ago that was absolute hell on earth. I walked it for 3 months 2 weeks when I finally came to my senses and quit, only to be laughed at by the administration who didn't believe me, and later shunned by co-workers who felt I left them stranded (and I did in a way) - but my mental health was far more important than any job that place could offer.