Existing Submissions

Suicide ideation due to job stress differs by gender

Author: Stephen A. Bishopp
Author's Email Address: stephen.bishopp@dpd.ci.dallas.tx.us
Author's Agency or Organization: Dallas Police Department/Caruth Police Institute
Author or Author Agency's Web site: http://www.untdallas.edu/cpi

A wide body of research has demonstrated that police officers are profoundly affected by the jobs they do. Faced with stress, officers learn to adapt by incorporating coping techniques.  The current study utilizes general strain theory to explain occurrences of the most dangerous maladaptive coping technique: suicide ideation. Police officers from three large cities in Texas were surveyed. We found that stress is significantly related to officers’ suicide ideation; however, there are important risk factors to consider. Additionally, important differences in suicide ideation outcomes between men and women police officers were found.

Results: The present study utilizes logistic regression techniques, finding that strain has a positive and direct effect on male officers suicide ideation risk, but not for female police. Moreover, depression has a mediating effect on strain and suicide ideation for both genders.

Conclusions: Some critical differences in suicide ideation outcomes between male and female police officers are reported. Policy implications concerning retention and recruiting are also discussed.


Recommended Resources:

Resources Web site(s)

Author's Biography:
Stephen A. Bishopp is the Associate Director for Research at The Caruth Police Institute in the Dallas Police Department in Dallas, Texas.  He received his Ph.D. (2013) in Criminology from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is a 25-year veteran and Sergeant with the Dallas Police Department. Research interests include police and subculture, promotional systems within police agencies, and criminological theory.

Shoring up your foundation to hold a heavy load

Author: Carolyn Whiting
Author's Email Address: bc@gmail.com
Author's Agency or Organization: Retired  Town of Greenburgh NY Police Department
Author or Author Agency's Web site: facebook:  The Crazy Lives of Police Wives

As a former police officer and a police wife I have seen my marriage from both sides.   Working with “the guys” has given me a perspective from a police officer’s point of view.  Knowing many police wives and being one has given me a perspective from the wife’s point of view.  Can the two meet somewhere in the middle?  Yes!

As a police officer, you probably are not used to wearing your heart on your sleeve or “sharing your feelings.”  It’s not “manly” and it’s not something police officers do.  Women on the other hand, often love to talk, talk, talk and then talk some more about their feelings.  How do you satisfy your wife’s need to talk about your feelings from work and your natural instinct to “buck up” and “shrug it off”?  And does it really matter if you don’t talk with your wife about the job.  Yes it matters!   There is only so much “shrugging it off” before you become overwhelmed and cracks may appear in many aspects of your life, including your marriage.  Like a house, if your foundation is not strong, you won’t hold up to a heavy load.

Many cops I used to work with have told me how lucky my husband is to have a wife who understands the job, a wife he can share all details of the job with.   One need not have been a cop to be a willing and understanding sounding board.  Develop the habit of sharing details about your day, on and off duty, from the start of your relationship.  If you are already several or more years into your relationship, begin a new chapter today.   Pick a time to set aside for talking about your day.  Perhaps it’s over a walk around the block or a beer or an iced tea when you each get home from work.  Perhaps it’s a half hour of no television after the kids are in bed, or a daily breakfast coffee date. The time may vary with your work schedule but what matters most is that you make a commitment to set time aside each day, making this time your priority.  Start the process slowly, getting each of you used to talking about your day.  Perhaps an officer can start by discussing the latest home project, a workout at the gym or the day’s fishing trip. The conversation does not need to be fraught with meaning, the important thing is to start a habit of sharing the big and small events of your day. Take some time to explain what each division in your department does, how they intertwine, who you work with and their individual quirks and family situations, the various laws you deal with on a regular basis and anything else that you think will better help your spouse to understand your job.   On work days, if your spouse is not used to hearing the gritty details of the job, start with the simple calls and in a few weeks, work up to the hard calls you have been on.    Trust that your spouse is capable of hearing the worst and you will survive the long haul of the job better, now that you have a healthy release for your stress.  You will grow closer to your spouse as your spouse becomes the person you know you can count on to listen and support you on the good days but more importantly, on the really hard days. Your foundation will be strong enough to hold a heavy load.  You will become “that guy”, the guy other guys envy, the guy who can relax and share every aspect of his life with his wife.


Recommended Resources:
The Crazy Lives of Police Wives to gain a perspective on how your job impacts your marriage and your wife from your wife’s viewpoint.

Resources Web site(s)

Author's Biography:
I began my career with the Town of Greenwich Connecticut Police Department and left after a brief time to join the Town of Greenburgh NY Police Department.  Unfortunately, I injured my back while lifting a stretcher after approximately six years and retired. I had wanted to be a Police Officer since I was a young child and retiring after such a short time was not something I was happy about.  I met my husband while both of us were working for the Town of Greenburgh Police Department, where he is still working and we have been happily married for over twenty five years.  I am the co-author of The Crazy Lives of Police Wives, a book by and for Police Wives.

Know when to make a change

Author: Miguel Reyna
Author's Email Address: miguel.reyna@co.travis.tx.us
Author's Agency or Organization: Travis County Sheriff’s Office
Author or Author Agency's Web site: www.tcsheriff.org

As a single father of three kids, I was forced to face some facts as I was on patrol working midnights…  Is it time to make a change? Am I still able to do this job and keep myself and my partners safe out here?

As a law enforcement officer, one of the most challenging things to do is face the fact that you have limitations.  In the course of six years I had undergone a myriad of changes in both my personal and professional life. I had gotten divorced one month after completing my field training program and entered the world of a single father. This greatly affected me in ways that I had not fully understood. In the following six years I found myself getting more and more run down as I struggled to find a balance. The stress was starting to affect every aspect of my life. My work performance began to deteriorate as small things began to get past me. The countless scenes that I had been exposed to had caused me to be more and more jaded and calloused.  My relationships with my girlfriend and children also became strained and I kept giving myself excuses saying “This is just how it is on patrol.” The stress had taken a great toll. My health was affected due to bad diet and inadequate sleep. I had gained weight and walked in a lethargic haze for most of my days off, just to start all over the next week. I finally reached that point and had to face a fact….I needed a change!

I began looking at options and decided to apply for a position as a training instructor for my agency. Three months later, I was reassigned and the difference was immediate. My new schedule greatly increased the amount of rest I was getting and enabled me the energy and time to begin exercising. I was also getting the opportunity to “re-learn” many of the techniques that had deteriorated over time while I was on patrol.  My advice to all officers out there is simple. Realize that you are human and take a little time to evaluate yourself.  Look for ways that you can make a change for the better before it’s too late.


Recommended Resources:

Resources Web site(s)

Author's Biography:

De-Stress With Self Hypnosis

Author: Carlos H. Martinez
Author's Email Address: CarlosHypnosis@gmail.com
Author's Agency or Organization: Los Angeles Police Department
Author or Author Agency's Web site: CarlosHmartinez.com

Hypnosis may sound like some mind-controlling trick you see in a movie or at a stage show. It’s far from that yet, exactly like that in some aspects. Hypnosis has its place in our career as law enforcement officers, our personal lives, and the success in both aspects.  First, a brief explanation of hypnosis and how it can help with our mental/emotional fitness.

Hypnosis, simply stated, is the state of being mentally focused on a given area of interest. Does that make sense? For example, you find yourself in a situation that on duty that involves some level of force. How did you react and what do you remember thinking? Some say that they have the feeling that time stands still or some may say they have the opposite feeling, “it happened so quickly.”  Both reactions are valid.  The common factor is how we all get tunnel vision and become focused during these situations. Now, step aside from our careers, let’s talk about our personal lives, sports for example. Competitive athletes are constantly seeking that “zone.” The athletic “zone” is hypnosis.

Hypnosis can amp you up and it can also calm you down.  As a hypnotherapist, I have helped clients find that concentrated focus as well as find that well needed emotional relaxation. There are times in our lives where we are too proud, too afraid, or too busy to ask for help. When coping with the dangers of stress, we can’t be too proud, too afraid or too busy to ask for help. There are plenty of ways to cope - some of us run, some lift weights, others may drink and choose to deal with the dress by not confronting the issue.  Regardless of what we choose, we must have a balance of all methods of coping skills. Think of it this way, the more gear we carry on our Sam Brownes, the more options we have to defend ourselves.

Hypnosis is quite simple and has roots in various other methods of emotional fitness. Some may compare hypnosis to meditation, guided relaxation, and yoga.  Hypnosis can be conducted by a trained operator (hetero hypnosis) or by yourself (self hypnosis). Finding a balance between both methods is a great choice and both are extremely easy to master. It just requires a little patience and about 10 minutes a day, a few times a week to start. There are two key concepts that you can use - breathing and relaxing.

It’s best if you’re starting out to find a quite spot in the house, (I chose to lock myself in the bathroom with a pair of headphones attached to my IPod to block out some of the noise at home). Sit up straight with your feet uncrossed, flat on the floor. Make sure your back is straight and that your hands are on or in your lap. Once you get yourself situated start taking long and deep breaths (4 seconds inhale and 4 seconds exhale) through the mouth or nose is your choice.  After a few deep breaths, you can close your eyes to block out any visual distractions and just continue to concentrate on your long deep breaths. Once you get the breathing going for a few cycles, begin to systematically tense and relax your major muscles groups. It’s important that you give yourself permission to relax and with each deep breath you tense and relax your muscles even more.  Once you’re done and ready move on, open your eyes and enjoy your new sense of relaxation and rejuvenation!


Recommended Resources:

Resources Web site(s)

Author's Biography:
Carlos is currently a sworn police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. He is assigned to the Crisis Response Unit where he serves the members of the community who are experiencing personal crisis. He has had assignments in patrol, crime suppression, narcotics, and collision investigation. Carlos is also a certified hypnotherapist and is in the preliminary planning stages of forming a non-profit group focusing on public safety/military personal. He wants to share his knowledge on the effective uses of hypnosis for combatting stress and PTSD related issues.  Carlos stresses that there is strength in awareness as well as strength in numbers to cope with stress and PTSD.

15 Day Challenge for Healing and Renewing One’s Spirit

Author: Captain Dan Willis
Author's Email Address: dwillis1121@yahoo.com
Author's Agency or Organization: La Mesa Police
Author or Author Agency's Web site: N/A

1. Self Awareness: Write why you became a police officer, the purpose in your work, and how the job has adversely affected you, your outlook on life, your primary relationships: What value should you get from work?
Challenge: Re-dedicate yourself to the purpose of protecting and giving life to others. Write what your family, spouse, friends, work colleagues, and the community need from you and focus on that rather than what you want from them.

2. Goals: Having short term, intermediate, and long term goals are essential to remain motivated and grounded;
Challenge: Write at least one realistic short term goal, an intermediate goal, and a long term goal: write what you can do each day toward achieving each goal—even something as simple as reminding yourself about them each morning.

3. Communication: Practicing effective communication and sharing your experiences, thoughts, and emotions, are essential to sustain a healthy spirit.
Challenge: Actively work this day at connecting with others, sharing with them, asking them questions about themselves and learn to listen. Develop a strong foundation and support by engaging and talking with others.

4. Relationships: The most important things in life cannot be seen or touched, but are felt with the heart. Write down who your most important relationships are with and what makes them so important.
Challenge: Tell or write someone today how much you appreciate them and what they mean to you. Write down what you can do to consistently work at improving these relationships based upon what specifically you can do, completely independent of how the other person may respond.

5. Live Love: The greatest motivator, inspiration, purpose, and contentment in life come from living expressions of love. The biggest regret of most people is that they wish they had spent more time with their kids and wish they were a better husband or wife, son or daughter, father or mother.
Challenge: Show your most important people that they are the most important thing in your life by what you do each day. Do something special with them this day.

6. Forgiveness: Not forgiving yourself or someone else causes more discontent and anxiety than nearly anything else.
Challenge: The original meaning of the word “forgiveness” means “to let go”. Ask someone you have wronged in the past to forgive you. Also, forgive someone for something that you perceive they have done against you.

7. Learn to Let Go: There is often a natural tendency to identify with negative emotions and to harbor negative feelings. Negative thoughts and negative emotions only serve to poison our spirit and they prevent us from enjoying the highest quality of life.
Challenge: Make a conscious effort to become aware of every negative thought or negative emotion this day. Then, consciously let go of that negativity and replace it with a positive thought, a positive affirmation, or a remembrance of a positive feeling.

8. Compassion: The most contented and meaningful life is built upon selfless motivation, self-giving behavior, and compassion toward others. The quality of our life and the well-being of our spirit increases the more life is made to not be all about us. The more our life is about others and their well-being, the more we find peace and contentment.
Challenge: Do something today nice for someone else that is unexpected. Make a habit of looking for unexpected things to do for others.

9. Self-improvement: A vibrant, healthy spirit is dependent upon progress and the development of a finer character. One can only improve their character through consistent effort. Write down words that describe what kind of person you are, what kind of person you are becoming, and what kind of person you would like to be. Write the ideal characteristics you would like to attain.
Challenge: identify a negative or bad habit you wish you did not have. Replace that habit with a positive, good one. Each day work at developing those ideal characteristics you hope to attain.

10. Exercise: Few things will enhance the wellness of your spirit more than consistent exercise.
Challenge: If you already are not consistently exercising (4-5 days a week), develop a reasonable exercise plan that you can maintain; start it today. If you are already exercising, evaluate how effective and consistent it has been and resolve to increase your effort.

11. Gratitude: It is nearly impossible for your spirit to be depressed while at the same time feeling thankful. The consistent practice of being thankful for all of the good in our lives will help to sustain the spirit and keep one from sinking into depression.
Challenge: Write a list of everything you are grateful for, no matter how small; list everything good in your life now or in the past. After one week, create a new thankful list and see how many more things you have realized that you actually have to be grateful.

12. Silence: In silence we can come to know ourselves and our needs. Without the constant distractions of life, creative ideas tend to become unleashed. Silence is a way to get in touch with ourselves and to become centered on what should be valued in life.
Challenge: Use this day as a day of silence. Try not to speak unless you absolutely have to. Don’t listen to the radio, an IPod, television, computer game, or anything else with sound. Use this day of silence to think more clearly and to feel-to connect with your inner self.

13. Speech: One’s speech is often used to broadcast and re-enforce negative thinking and negative emotions. Our speech also promotes our own ego and self-interest, as well as being used against others. This can have a very damaging effect upon our spirit.
Challenge: Use this day to speak only that which is positive and helpful. Do not speak negatively about anyone, about your agency, or about yourself.

14. Choice: The quality of our professional and personal lives are built and sustained upon the hundreds of choices we make every day. The constructive use of choice and free will can immediately begin to enhance the wellness of our spirit and the quality of our life.
Challenge: Make a list of 3 choices you regret. Make a list of the reasons why you made those choices; what was the motivation behind them? Write what you will do to make more consistent constructive choices. Examine the motivation behind what you think, say, and do.

15. Righting Past Wrongs: Our spirit can be heavily weighted down by things we have said and done in the past which we regret.
Challenge: Make a list of every person you have wronged in one way or another. Each day do something to make right that wrong of a particular person. Then do the same thing the next day for the next person on your list until the list is exhausted.

The healing and wellness of our spirit just does not happen on its own. We have to make the conscious decision to do something that is proactive, constructive, and positive toward our own healing and well-being. Consistent wellness practices will re-enforce good habits and will nurture the spirit within while enhancing coping ability.


Recommended Resources:

Resources Web site(s)

Author's Biography:
Captain Dan Willis has served with the La Mesa Police Department for 24 years, including as a SWAT Commander and crimes of violence/ cold murder case detective for 9 years. Captain Willis developed and coordinated the La Mesa Police Department’s Wellness Program. He teaches emotional survival to law enforcement throughout Southern California.

Captain Willis has been an instructor at the police academy for the past 9 years. He is the author of the book “Healing Our Heroes: The First Responders 10 Essential Survival Keys for Mind, Body, and Spirit” published by New World Library, due out in print in the fall of 2014.




The Power of Supportive Supervision

Author: Sonny J Provetto, MSW. LCSW
Author’s Email Address: CLICK HERE to email Sonny Provetto
Author’s Agency or Organization: Law Enforcement Consultant/Psychothrapy
Author’s Web Site: N/A

Police supervision is a challenging and nearly impossible task given the environment that patrol officers work in and the nature of the work itself.  Nonetheless, supervision is a critical element for agencies trying to shape and guide their employees in the delivery of modern police services (Engel, 2001). A resilient organization begins to take shape when administrators and supervisors start caring about their people.   According to a recent study, first line supervisors are the most influential member of the administrative staff especially when they are perceived to be supportive in their interactions with subordinates (National Institute of Justice Research, 2011).  The powerful effects of social relationships between front-line supervisors and subordinates can be used to control negative behaviors, influence future actions, and help organizations move towards establishing a positive and more resilient environment.   First-line supervisors are therefore a critical component of successful organizational change, accountability, performance, and the achievement of the agency’s goals.  Their role and function is vital to establishing a sustainable, supportive environment.

Supportive supervision is a key element in enhancing an officer’s feelings of competence and in a time of crisis, a supervisor’s support and personal connection can mean the difference between finding an event manageable or having the crisis turn problematic and pathological.  Supportive supervision also draws the attention away from the negative and engages the officer in positive and active problem solving.   This permits them to derive meaning from the situation and enhances their ability to exercise more control in the process (Patton & Stephens, 1996).

Through this approach, supervisors are in a unique position to shape how officers view stressful events and challenges in their careers.  The supervisor who—through example and discussion—communicates a positive construction or re-construction of shared stressful experience may exert an influence on the entire group in the direction of his/her interpretation of the experience (Patron & Violanti, 2008).  Alternatively, supportive supervisors may simply encourage officers through praise and recognition, or show support by establishing trust and good relations with them.  Officers functioning in trustful relationships are left feeling more empowered and more likely to experience meaning in their work (Violanti, 2010).  This is especially true for the police organization as a whole.  Officers who feel committed to their work have the ability to find difficult situations worth working for and see them through to completion. (Maddi & Khoshaba, 1994).
Supportive supervisors who practice resiliency also demonstrate how to exercise control over individual events and situations.  This practice is rooted in the belief that, with effort and commitment, officers can influence the events around them.  In a supportive and trusting environment, officers are not helpless and can be effective proponents of their own fate—in control of their own responses and the responses of others (Maddi & Khoshaba, 1994). As a result, a supportive climate will render officers more likely to take control, influence the course of events and ask for help without risk of reprisal or hesitation when work related stress becomes overwhelming.

Sonny Provetto, MSW, LCSW


Recommended Resources:

Resource Websites:

Author's Biography:


Author: Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire
Author’s Email Address: Click Here to Email Mark
Author’s Agency or Organization: Natick Police Department, Natick,MA
and the Natick Police Superior Officers Association, Local 82
Author’s Web Site: N/A

May 1, 2011 was a very special day in my life.
First, I must congratulate and state how proud I am for the members of our United States Armed Forces and everyone who was involved with the special operations in Pakistan. Once again, these brave men and woman proved to the world that they are extremely disciplined and know how to take care of business. I am grateful for these men and women and to my fellow public safety professionals who keep our families, friends and our communities safe and maintain our free and open society here in the United States.
 On a more personal note, on May 1, 2011, I had the opportunity to make a return visit to the Savage Road Race hosted by Wellesley P.D. Since I have been working days for the past 4 years, I have not been able to join my fellow members of the Natick Police Chase Team for the various races and fun runs as I would like to do.
What made this day very exciting for me was I was joined by my 12 year old daughter, Rose. I have waited a long time for this moment. Over the years, I have admired many other public safety friends who have had the opportunity to run a race with their family members. At this race, several of my co-worker’s wives and parents participated in this event. We were joined by a growing group of young teenage girls that our chase team supports, the Natick Fit Girls who participated in this race with us. Personally this was a dream coming true that my daughter and I were participating in a road race together.

I was concerned for her running the first time in an organized race. My fear reduced as she took off like a deer at the starting line while my co-workers were laughing and joking with me about my concerns. I am grateful to Rose for waiting for me at the half way point as we got to run and walk the last half of the race. She shared with me the importance of pacing yourself so we don’t burn out early in a race. I am proud that she had the ability to coach her Dad to the finish line. (Wink, wink….)
Now let me make this clear, I AM A BACK OF THE PACK RUNNER. My goal is to finish the race and have fun especially with the race spectators and volunteers. This is how I set my personal best. These events give me a chance to support a charity and more importantly get together with my co-workers and other public safety peers outside of work to have some fun while establishing new friendships and contacts.
I hope you will read the book, EMOTIONAL SURVIVAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: A Guide for Officers and Their Families by Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D. This book is a fantastic guide for officer wellness. Dr. Gilmartin is a retired police officer who discusses the emotional and physiological effects our career has on us along with maintaining a more positive outlook including suggestions to help us have a healthy career, family life, friendships outside of law enforcement and retirement. I have read the book several times and I have purchased numerous copies for friends and co-workers over the years. I have seen Dr. Gilmartin twice when he has come to the New England area. If you get the opportunity to see him, even if you need to pay, he is worth it.
My wife, another co-worker and I saw him live at Portsmouth P.D. in 2009. He made a promise at the beginning of his presentation that he will teach us how to keep our children from becoming a diabetic by the time they are 40 years old. At the conclusion of his presentation, he revealed his advice: TAKE YOUR KIDS OUTSIDE AND DO SOMETHING WITH THEM, GET THEM AWAY FROM THE TELEVISION AND THE COMPUTER GAMES. GO FOR A WALK, BICYCLE OR ANYTHING TO KEEP THEM PHYSICALLY ACTIVE.
Having Dr. Gilmartin’s suggestions now in our mind, I hope you will incorporate these suggestions into your own wellness program. Set a healthy example for your family and friends to join you in some physical activities:
• Take a walk in the neighborhood, along the beach or a walking trail.
• Go for a bicycle ride, play catch, a little volleyball or ultimate Frisbee.
• Plan a hike somewhere local and pack a healthy picnic meal to share together.
• With the little kids, go to a playground and play hide and seek, chase me or bring a soccer ball to kick around.
• Some of the health clubs have programs for young kids and teens that they can attend while you get a work out in.
• Encourage them to help you with the yard work or snow shoveling.
• Schedule at least 1 meal a day together as a family. Our kids do want eat what we are eating and it is always at the moment we least expect it. Make extra healthy meals and watch the portion sizes. Tell them: Believe it or not, fruit is actually a dessert. Limit the visits to restaurants to once a week (My 7 year old son’s Friday night ritual is the Chicken nugget Happy Meal and the toy). It is more cost effective and you know what we are eating when we prepare our own meals.
• Introduce your kids to WATER when they are looking for something to drink.Keep them away from the excess sugars and especially the high fructose corn syrup.

During activities like these, our own family’s emotional and physical wellbeing will improve. These activities give us a chance to connect and check in to see what is going on in their lives and it allows us to open up. Communication is a wonderful thing.
We deal professionally with many individuals and families from dysfunctional home lives when we work. When we spend our time together with our own family and participate in a fun activity, this reminds us in our own reflection about how good we do have it and being grateful for the blessings that we continue to receive. This is our own choice to maintain a healthy balance in our careers as a public safety professional. You and I get to make the decision for a healthy, positive and successful outlook for our own lives.
Until next time: Keep your eyes open, wear your vest, take care of yourself-your family-your co-workers and your community and stay safe!


Recommended Resources:

Resource Websites:

Author's Biography:
Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire is a member of the Natick Police Superior Officers Association, Local 82 in Natick, Massachusetts. He started his career as a campus police officer and he has been a municipal police officer in Massachusetts since 1988. He is a volunteer police peer assistant with the Metro-Boston C.I.S.M. Team. He has secured grant funding and is currently assisting his department to develop a wellness program.


Author: Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire
Author’s Email Address: Click Here to Email Mark
Author’s Agency or Organization: Natick Police Department, Natick,MA
and the Natick Police Superior Officers Association, Local 82
Author’s Web Site: N/A

As we approach the fine weather after a tough winter here in New England, many of us know this time of the year as our busy season: Extra Details, Overtime Shifts and more importantly the increased demand for correctional and police services to control increasing criminal and public disorder activity.

Before we indulge into the crazy long hours, take a moment to ask yourself these questions:
• Am I eating right? Use an insulated cooler bag and pack your own meals, read the labels-eat light, pack some fruit. Take it with you on a detail, to our office or in the cruiser; it’s there in case you get stuck on the job and you get hungry.
• Am I drinking enough water? Water is a necessary part of our healthy diet especially in the warm weather. Drink often before you experience thirst, water is necessary for our physiological balance in our body.
• Am I getting enough daily physical exercise? Work on your core body strength and 20+ minutes of cardio endurance. Are you prepared to fight and restrain the bad guy? Take a guess what they are doing right now, preparing to fight you, me and any cop or c.o. if they get the chance. Take control of your physical wellbeing, train to win!
• Am I getting enough sleep? To stay sharp, alert and prepared for the challenges of our job, we need to get proper sleep at home 7+ hours a day. Research indicates this is a serious problem resulting in public safety accidents and fatigue which jeopardize officer safety.
• Am I taking time to relax and commit to other activities than just working? Do you play organized sports? Go to church? Are you involved in some community service within your home community? Do you fish or enjoy other hobbies like music or watch a movie? Find and enjoy some off duty activities.
• Am I making the extra time needed for my family? Make some plans with your family to do something fun as a family. Plan a vacation or day trips. Watch and cheer on your kids or your spouse at their sporting events. Make a weekly commitment to hire a babysitter and take your spouse out on a date and spend a few hours alone to talk and connect. Send your loved ones a quick text or make a phone call from work to tell them that you are thinking of them- remind them how special they are in your life.
• How is your mood and sense of emotional wellbeing? Is the job starting to wear you down? How are my relationships with others? Have you seen something that has blown your mind? Many departments have a chaplain, a stress officer or an Employee Assistance Professional. Some agencies have peer assistance or stress units. Check with your health plan, many provide counseling services which is anonymous and it is your business only. Seeing a professional clinician allows you to discuss in private what may be troubling you on the job, at home or with your relationships. Reach out and seek some assistance. If you notice a co-worker struggling emotionally, reach out and help persuade them to anonymously seek professional assistance. Everyone will reap the benefits.
• When I am working: Is my head in the game? Am I present and consciously alert? Dress and act as a professional. Develop and maintain your professional bearing and presence as a police officer or C.O. Learn strategies to deflect and persevere from the negative interactions from the public or clients. Make extra time to cultivate the positive relationships with the public. There are great people who really do respect our profession. Take the time to interact and get to know the people in your community.

Make good use of your off duty time. We need to enjoy the nice weather and recharge our wellbeing batteries too.

There are many opportunities for police officers and correction officers to earn extra income while we live within our means. If we get caught up overdoing the extra work and overtime, IT DOES AFFECT YOUR HEALTH, RELATIONSHIPS and FINANCES. One way or another, you will pay a price so please keep a healthy balance in your life today.
As we have seen the large increase in violence toward our profession, we need to be mentally and physically ready to meet the job challenges and take care of business when necessary. You are the only person who can honestly answer these questions and more importantly: You are the person who can take the action necessary for a better quality of life.
Until next time: Keep your eyes open, wear your vest, take care of yourself-your family-your co-workers and your community and stay safe!


Recommended Resources:

Resource Websites:

Author's Biography:
Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire is a member of the Natick Police Superior Officers Association, Local 82 in Natick, Massachusetts. He started his career as a campus police officer and he has been a municipal police officer in Massachusetts since 1988. He is a volunteer police peer assistant with the Metro-Boston C.I.S.M. Team. He has secured grant funding and is currently assisting his department to develop a wellness program.

On Mental Illness and Stress: Tips on How to Stay Sane; and ALIVE!

Author: Margaret Higgins

I am a 100% service-connected (US Army) disabled veteran.  I am mentally ill; and I have a concomitant stress disorder.

First of all: I now have God, and Jesus Christ, in my life.  They are my greatest helps.  (Scriptures such as: "Have no anxiety about anything."  and "I cast my cares on Jesus Christ, for he cares for me.  He will sustain me."  "I came so that they might have joy.  And that their joy may be complete."  "For freedom, Christ has set us free."- help me no end.  However, they must be practiced, to be affective.)

I read scriptures every day; and I try to go to church every Sunday.  My church congregants are my family.... my support group.

I see a psychiatrist, who has me on medications: to fit my specific disorders: I have schizoaffective; the bipolar type, with a concomitant mood disorder: a generalized anxiety disorder, the borderline personality disorder, and the narcissistic personality disorder.)

Don't make the mistake of allowing your disorders to define you.

I try to keep my home as neat as possible; so that I will feel peaceful in my home environment.

I have a cat.  He is not defined as a service pet: but when I lay my head down on his body and fur, my stress just Melts away.

I live alone.  I have been retired since 1990.  (I taught emotionally handicapped children, as a Teacher's Aide; after I got out of the army.)

I am very busy.  That keeps me from feeling lonely.

When I have a deadline to meet, a certain time that I have to be somewhere: I get really stressed out.  One thing I do is to recite scriptures that I have memorized.  Another thing I do, is to repeat over and over, to myself, these two scriptures: (1) "Be still and know that I am God." and (2) "My peace I give to you."  As I am reciting these two scriptures to myself: I breathe; in through my nose to the count of four; and out through my mouth- also to the count of four.

Helping others, Really helps me.  Reaching out.  (Getting "outside of my mind," as Papa put it.)

My main message to the mentally ill, has been: To aim high.  And definitely don't use your mental illness as an excuse for not being able to accomplish.

But my message to all of you brave Law Enforcement Officers, (Whether you are retired or not) is what the sign at the VA hospital says: (Roughly) "It takes the courage of a warrior to fight; It takes the courage of a warrior to ask for help."

To sum up, I believe that: if you don't take care of yourselves; stress-wise, and mentally: It could mean your very lives.


With all of My Respect, Honor, Support, Prayers, and Love,
Margaret Christie Higgins


Law Enforcement Officers, You can Always call the Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255- (24/7).
I have another suggestion for you; that Really helps me. (When I am really stressed out, for instance.)

Please call: 1-800-NOW-PRAY.  That will get you to a religious location, called 'SilentUnity'.  Tell the man or lady who answers the phone: what your specific needs are, at that time.  Ask them to say a prayer for you.  Their prayers are beautiful; and some of them even improvise- and make up a special prayer, for You.

With My Love in Him, Margaret


Recommended Resources:

Resource Websites:

Author's Biography:


First Responders Plan for Optimal Long Term Health

Author: Dave McDowell, Retired Police Sergeant
Author’s Email Address: CLICK HERE to email Dave
Author’s Agency or Organization: Westminster PD, Orange County CA and the First Responders Fitness Challenge
Author’s Web Site: www.facebook.com/FirstRespondersFitnessChallenge / www.PoliceOutreach.com

Working Patrol, Detectives, Dispatch, Records or Administration all have one thing in common ~ the challenge of maintaining long term optimal health. If you are a first responder or someone who supports those who protect us 24/7 across the United States - we welcome you to this fitness challenge by visiting www.facebook.com/FirstRespondersFitnessChallenge. A note to our fellow first responders and their families: After 25 years in the business you know I know how you think so here is the bottom line .  A free personal health coaching service to help people achieve optimal health through a comprehensive, easy & medically-backed cost neutral nutrition program used at Johns Hopkins Univ. & recommended by 20,000+ doctors.

Your free coach is my wife Nancy ~ a Registered Nurse and your humble Retired Sergeant ~ Dave.  The best way to find out what this is all about and get started is to just call us.  When it comes to your health or your families health your “why” is just as important as the “how” which is why we enjoy the new friend’s we make one at a time.   Nancy’s cell is 541-390-2273 and Dave’s is 541-390-2891. Do check out our website and the rest of this article but knowing how good you all are at making decisions followed by kicking in doors, or as a dispatcher waiting for that officer to call back in on a hot call; I don’t have to worry about you not wanting to make a phone call.  If you can wake up a judge at 3am for a telephonic warrant you can call us with no worries.

Our clients lose up to 2-5 pounds per week and are able to eliminate/reduce medications and often reverse Type II Diabetes. We are anxious to share the gift that was given to us through this easy to follow path to a new lifestyle.  The best part about sharing is that we simply want to help you share your "why" when it comes to health in your life.  Each person has to be ready on their own and that is always your decision.  We will be there to listen tomorrow or next year :).  One question we know you will want an answer to is, “Can I do this working 9’s or 12.5 hour shifts?”  Absolutely and we look forward to sharing our tips to do just that!

For anyone desiring to lose weight or maintain their weight it's important to eat five to six small meals a day. Eating foods that are low in carbs and fats in the right portions will allow you to get into a mild fat burning state and burn calories from your own fat. Getting into this mild fat burning state will keep you from being hungry and give you more energy!

Optimal health is far more than just being at your healthy weight. Find someone who can support you in your goals toward optimal health, preferably an experienced health coach!
We understand working long shifts in a stressful environment and look forward to establishing a long-term relationship with you as your coaches. This is a cost neutral program with many professional resources available to you through your personal Health Coach that charges no fee for their service.

Optimal Health is a whole new approach to well-being that is based on creating health with the Take Shape for Life program.  As you work toward Optimal Health, you’ll learn to make the choices that will help you take charge of your health for the long-term.  Healthy weight loss is just the beginning.

One of Dave's favorite lines: "30+ lb. sam browne, bad car seats and in 25 years not one suspect had the courtesy to allow me to "stretch" before starting a foot pursuit!" Our numbers are our cell phones so if you have questions you can even call on night shift. We will try to get back to you before your EOW! Nancy ~ 541-390-2273 / Dave ~ 541-390-2891.  CLICK HERE to email Nancy or CLICK HERE to email Dave.  Take the first step and share your story with us!


Resource Web Sites:

Author’s Biography:
Dave McDowell met his wife Nancy while they attended BIOLA University.  Nancy has many years experience as a Registered Nurse and also has a passion for leadership development for those who serve others such as Pastors, Chaplains, Missionaries, and church leaders.  Dave continues to work part time as a police officer and contract Federal Background Investigator along with his passion for police training and humanitarian aid work in Sudan and Uganda.  He retired after a 25 year police career in 2004 from the Westminster Police Department in Orange County, CA.  Some of his assignments included the Detective Bureau, SWAT, Adjutant to Chief of Police, Patrol Sergeant, Detective Bureau Sergeant and SWAT.  Dave also founded and directed the Southern California Chaplains Association.  Dave and Nancy have two married daughters and one INCREDIBLE 4 year old grandson all living near them in Oregon.

How to cope with challenging or controlling behaviour in your own relationships

Author: Tina Royles
Author’s Email Address: CLICK HERE to email Tina Royles or CLICK HERE
Author’s Agency or Organization: Selyor Therapy Centre and www.tinaroyles.com
Author’s Web Site: www.selyortherapycentre.com and www.tinaroyles.com

As Police Officers/Law Enforcement Officers it is part and parcel of the role to deal with challenging, difficult and traumatic situations with high regularity; and although we like to think that the barrier or shield that we surround ourselves with will protect us from the affects of the impact of such incidents/situations after a while the continual impact penetrates. But what happens with the emotional pain that we feel; what is the outlet for any negative emotions or do we bottle them all up until the pressure builds up and the lid flies off.

As  a  former  Police  Officer  I  know  that  we  don’t  often  as  individuals  like  to  admit  when  we  are  having  a   tough time, so we try to deal with it ourselves. Attempting to deal with it ourselves without the help of the appropriate professionals, often leads to an adverse affect on our own personal intimate relationships, arguments increase in frequency and in severity, relationships may become unhealthy, controlling, abusive and violent.

Domestic Violence is prevalent amongst police officer relationships whether that be as a victim or a perpetrator of the violence and abuse, and yet officers are scared to approach the welfare departments within their own organisations to ask for help often out of fear that they may lose their jobs. But unless as a victim or a perpetrator you seek help the situation will only get worse.

Don’t  suffer  in  silence  - Help is out there to assist you or someone you care about in working through such challenging or controlling behaviour in your own relationships.
Why not visit my websites to find out more information or contact me directly. Recommended Resources: See websites for resources


Resource Web Sites:
www.tinaroyles.com www.selyortherapycentre.com

Author’s  Biography:
Tina Royles (a former police officer of 16 years with Essex Police (UK) is a leader and professional speaker in the field of domestic violence and challenging relationships. She is Director of Selyor Ltd which incorporates:
Selyor Therapy Centre a counselling and holistic therapy private practice focusing on emotional wellbeing in form of Stress Management, Anger Management, Domestic Violence, Relationships, and on physical wellbeing in the form of Massage. STC specialises in domestic violence work for both victims and perpetrators. Selyor Consultancy focuses on delivering training & writing tailor made training materials & other resourses on domestic violence & other forms of abuse. For information on her Experience, Skills and Knowledge check out the above websites

Trinity of Training- Family, Body, Mind

Author: Sgt Joseph Zalenski
Author’s Email Address: CLICK HERE to email Sgt. Zalenski
Author’s Agency or Organization: Cape Coral Police Department, Florida USA
Author’s Web Site: n/a

To survive this career, an officer must be exposed to concepts that are not covered in the police academy. An officer must prepare the family for the unique situations that may arise and their own body both mentally and physically. Several police training concepts have been embraced trainers in my agency and presented to officers and spouses. LTC Dave Grossman’s books On Killing and On Combat have exposure nationally. Dr Bill Lewinski of the Force Science Research Center at UM Mankato and his work is published. Ken Murray, author of Training at the Speed of Life and his training classes have been attended nationally. Dr. Kevin Gilmartin’s presentation Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement has been re-discovered by another generation of officers.

These four men have shaped training concepts for the past 5 years. Training itself can be used to encompass matters on and off-duty. These tools must be used outside of a vacuum and need to be comprehended in a larger sphere of officer perspective- blended, with a focus on the whole. Police succumb to many threats: Officer safety issues are addressed through Murray’s reality based training, personal stresses such as finances, divorce, “red-zone” aftershocks and the like are addressed by Emotional Survival’s coping concepts, Force Science identifies many of the areas we need to concentrate our precious few training hours and allow us to project the need for skill building, and Dave Grossman’s books allow us to better understand the physiological reactions to not only the stress associated with critical on-duty moments, but the residual after affects that linger in the mind.

Weaving these concepts together to better educate and train our officers is a win-win proposition. As time goes on in the officer’s career, these concepts presented by FTO’s and trainers need to be reinforced. I was likely weeks away from my wife’s departure when I attended Emotional Survival. I called her and told her I knew why I was behaving the way I was and I knew how to stop it. It was then she admitted how close I was to being alone. She read On Combat and understood better the mindset I had adopted and knew how to identify the residual emotional and psychological effects of stressful incidents.

It is equally important for ranking officers to endure the “pain” of training. First, if they wear a uniform they are a bull’s eye. Secondly, it enables them to better sit in judgment of officers in their command when they understand and recognize situations for what they are and how officers are trained. It is one thing to approve a written document, quite another to undergo the stress of training.

These concepts could fill an entire book, let alone a single page. Focus on our officers must be a total package concept or we risk losing our greatest resource to a myriad of threats that could easily be addressed through training and education that is available- if law enforcement as a whole can step away from the “we always did it that way and we don’t want to change” mindset.


Recommended Resources:
On Killing and On Combat by LTC Dave Grossman
-Training at the Speed of Life by Ken Murray
-Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin
-Force Science Institute, Ltd. Studying the Science & Human Dynamics Behind Deadly Force Encounters
Dr. Bill Lewinski, Director

Resource Web Sites: 

Author’s Biography:
Sergeant Joseph Zalenski is a Patrol Sergeant and former Training Unit member with the Cape Coral Police Department, Lee County, Florida. A 14 year veteran, he has certifications in lethal and less-than-lethal implements and developed other classes to address training needs. NRA Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, CJSTC Certified Firearms Instructor, Taser Instructor, ASP & Monadnock Baton, Pepperball & extended range impact rounds, Reality Based Training Instructor & others. He has attended seminars by LTC Grossman and Dr Gilmartin in person.

Make a Difference

Author: Sgt. Steve Dixon (ret)
Author’s Email Address: Click Here to Email Steve
Author’s Agency or Organization: San Jose (CA) Police Dept.
Author’s Web Site: http://www.onebitofdifference.com

The first piece of advice I give to all new police officers is to hit the ground running. As soon as you get out of your field training program you should go to every call you can go to. Trust me; you still have a lot to learn. The more calls you take, the more you will learn. One of the biggest mistakes I see new officers make is they wait for the dispatcher to send them on calls. Don’t let that be you. Volunteer for as many calls as you can take.

This is what I did when I started my career. And by the time I had two years on my department, I had ten-year veterans asking me for advice on calls. By the time I had three years on, I had such a reputation as a hard worker and good cop, I was offered nearly any position I wanted on my department. The same will happen for you.

I noticed that many of my fellow officers who weren’t having good careers just didn’t work very hard. They took very few calls and made very few arrests. They were uncomfortable at major calls because they just didn’t know what to do. Most of them took early medical retirements or just quit and went into some other line of work.

You will never enjoy your police career unless you get very good at it. So work hard and become the best you can be and I’ll promise that you’ll have a great career. I wrote a book about my career called Police Stories: Making One Bit of Difference. In my career I had to work with some lousy teammates and some poor leaders, but I still worked hard and made a difference in my community. And if I could do it, I know that you can too. And if you do, you’ll find out something I found out long ago; if you make a difference in other peoples’ lives; that will make all the difference in your own life. Don’t give up.

God bless you and stay safe out there.


Recommended Resources:
Police Stories: Making One Bit of Difference (available on Amazon.com)

Resource Web Sites:
http://www.facebook.com/PoliceStories http://www.onebitofdifference.com

Author’s Biography:
Steve Dixon began his law enforcement career in the Military Police (US Army). He then spent eleven years with the Santa Clara (CA) Police Dept. and transferred to the San Jose (CA) Police Dept. where he spent twenty years. He has taught at the local police academies for twenty-six years and has trained thousands of police recruits. He spent a total of twenty-five years on street patrol and served as a sergeant for twelve years. He also spent five years as the spokesperson for the San Jose Police Dept. He retired from police service in July 2008 but still teaches at the academy. He lives in Northern California.

Getting Enough Sleep is Critical to Your Safety and Success

 John Marx, CPP
Author’s Email Address:
 Click Here to Send Email
Author’s Agency or Organization: 
Executive Director – The Law Enforcement Survival Institute
Author’s Web Site:

It’s very clear in modern research that people in our modern society are not getting enough sleep and that sleep deficit is cause major health and life problems. If you put police officers and other law enforcement professionals into the mix who work odd hours, have high stress jobs and are addicted to all kinds of things that are bad for you (alcohol, junk food, caffeine) the the stakes get really high. We are playing a high stakes game of Russian roulette with our safety and health.

According to a large British study released in September of 2007 and reported by Reuters “People who do not get enough sleep are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease, Although the reasons are unclear, researchers said lack of sleep appeared to be linked to increased blood pressure, which is known to raise the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Another study from January of 2009 suggests that “People who get less than seven hours of sleep at night have a three times higher risk of catching a cold than people who sleep eight hours or more.”

And we in law enforcement are not immune, in a report entitled “Sleep Disorders Highly Prevalent Among Police Officers” it suggests that sleep problems “are exacerbated in shift workers such as police officers, who may experience chronic sleep loss due to their schedules. The study, authored by Shantha M.W. Rajaratnam, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, was based on the responses of 4,471 police officers and determined that “sleep disorders appear to be highly prevalent in the present sample of police officers”. Rajaratnam also said: “Sleep disorder screening and treatment programs may potentially improve police officer health, safety and productivity.” The report also said that the amount of sleep a person gets affects his or her physical health, emotional well-being, mental abilities, productivity and performance.

The Police Policy Studies Council quotes a story from the CBS show Health Watch in 2001 describing Sleep Deprivation as ‘Public Enemy Number 1′ for Cops. The documentary cites studies, including two in from the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, showing that the effects of sleep deprivation are similar to the changes in ability and judgment seen in a person under the influence of alcohol. “Seventeen hours without sleep is equivalent to a .05 blood alcohol level, and 24 hours without sleep is like a .01 blood alcohol level.

The PPSC article also quoted the author of “Tired Cops: The Importance of Managing Police Fatigue” (2000, Police Executive Research Forum), as suggesting that police fatigue can play a role in questionable shootings, especially in low-light conditions.

Here are some suggestions for you and you can learn more at our http://www.CopsAlive.com website by just querying the term “Sleep” in our “Investigate our Website” box on the right. We have several articles that have addressed the issues of sleep both directly and indirectly with other issues.

Eat well and get plenty of exercise and drink lots of water.

Don’t eat or drink anything like coffee, tea or alcohol within three hours of bedtime.

Try to get around 8 hours of sleep each 24 hour cycle.

Try to set a routine with your sleep pattern even if you work the night shift.

Avoid bright lights near bedtime and if you works nights sleep in a very dark room.

Things like a good pillow and mattress are important for good quality sleep so invest in the best you can afford and old mattresses wear out and can effect your sleep so get a new one.

Avoid exercise right before bedtime, many feel that exercise is better as you are starting your day.


Recommended Resources:
Tired Cops: The Importance of Managing Police Fatigue
Code 844
ISBN: 1-878734-67-9
190 pp.
Available from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
To order call 888-202-4563

Resource Web Sites:

Author’s Biography:
John Marx is the founder of CopsAlive.com. He was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city’s Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department’s Community Policing project. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was motivated to began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems, and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into CopsAlive.com. Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive.com is to save the lives of those who save lives!

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