“David Rodriguez, Chief Human Resource Officer & Chief Diversity Executive, discusses the scope of employees wellness including relationships, physical and mental well being, and a sense of purpose in the company and beyond.”
By Editorial Board
For the Chicago Police Department, 2018 had been a rough year that couldn’t end fast enough. Cmdr. Paul Bauer was shot to death in February as he pursued a suspect in the Loop. Officer Samuel Jimenez died in a November hospital shooting. There had been a number of suicides.
Then came the evening rush hour of Dec. 17. Two officers from the Far South Side Calumet District, both new on the job and both fathers, were hit by a Metra train and killed while chasing a man after a report of gunfire.
The deaths of Officers Eduardo Marmolejo, 36, and Conrad Gary, 31, were a sickening blow to the department. The Calumet District already had experienced more than its share of loss. Marmolejo and Gary were the fourth and fifth officers in the district to die in 2018, two others by suicide and one of an apparent heart attack.
A few days ago, in a story by the Tribune’s Madeline Buckley, a new detail emerged from that awful evening that speaks to the shared sacrifice of first responders. It also offers an example, amid heartbreak, of what leadership looks like:
Superintendent Eddie Johnson and other top brass had been the ones to reclaim the young officers’ remains from the Metra embankment, sparing other officers the anguish of the task.
Continue reading here.
By STATESIDE STAFF• APR 9, 2019
In the past two years, the Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson has lost four correctional officers to suicide. Earlier this month, his family and co-workers honored Michael Perdue, a long-time CO at Cotton, who died by suicide this year.
Corrections officers across the state are hoping these tragic losses will bring attention to the pressures of working in prisons.
Cary Johnson has been a corrections officer at Cotton since 1995, and she is part of an effort by the Michigan Corrections Organization, the union representing corrections officers, to better understand the mental health issues that impact prison staff, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Johnson says that Michael Perdue’s suicide had a ripple effect throughout the prison.
Continue reading and listen to the audio of the interview here.
POSTED 3:58 PM, APRIL 3, 2019, BY BEN BRADLEY
CHICAGO — A spike in suicides among Chicago police officers has members of the department sharing stories of their own struggles.
Four Chicago officers committed suicide last year and there have already been three this year. CPD’s rate of suicide is more than double the national rate for members of law enforcement.
In the video, four current and former Chicago cops sharing piercingly personal stories.
Their stories are part of a new department video that was shown to officers for the first time Wednesday.
Watch the video and continue reading here.
A dozen or so police officers gather once every month in the basement of an office building and talk — about handling holidays with families, about nightmares so bad they are reluctant to share a bed at night.
Most of the officers were involved in a shooting while on duty, and here they share stories of what that has meant. Sometimes they cry.
“This is what trauma looks like,” says Carrie Steiner, a former Chicago cop turned therapist who runs the counseling center. “This is what PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) looks like.”
Responding to that trauma is now a top challenge for the Chicago Police Department, where alarms are sounding after six officers killed themselves over the last eight months.
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SAMANTHA MICHAELSFEBRUARY 19, 2019 6:00 AM
On the dimly lit second floor of Stockton, California’s police headquarters, Lieutenant Brad Burrell addressed a room full of recent cadets: “Please come into this with a very open mind,” he told the seated officers, who had just signed up to patrol one of America’s most dangerous cities. Burrell, a tattooed combat veteran, was leading a daylong training intended to help the city’s next generation of cops talk about their feelings and cope with stress. “I sat on these very seats many, many years ago and thought, ‘I don’t need this junk,’” he said. “I was very wrong.”
In 2014, after the killings of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York sparked nationwide protests over police violence, Barack Obama created the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The committee would develop strategies not only for building trust between cops and communities, but also for addressing mental health problems among law enforcement. Nationally, more active-duty officers die from suicide than from shootings and traffic accidents combined—about 11 or 12 per month, according to some studies, and at least 27 so far in 2019, according to Karen Solomon, president of the group Blue H.E.L.P. And an estimated 150,000 cops show up to work with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition that’s often linked with heightened vigilance and could potentially affect their decision-making in fast-moving, high-pressure encounters—like when a suspect on the street reaches into a pocket for what may or may not be a gun.
The science is new, but as researchers begin to explore how trauma might affect cops on the job, more police departments are paying attention to their officers’ emotional wellbeing. They’re trying out everything from meditation apps to napping protocols to more traditional resources like counseling and chaplain programs. Last year, 115 agencies applied for a national awardrecognizing innovation in officer wellness and mental health programs, up from 10 agencies the year before.
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By Katelyn Newberg / Las Vegas Review-JournalFebruary 7, 2019 – 8:13 pm Updated February 8, 2019 – 8:27 pm
Corrections officers Neal Bengil and Jose Miranda were new to the job when a prison dormitory turned into a scene of chaos the night of March 9.
The officers, along with three co-workers, were unarmed when they went to stop a fight that had broken out among 24 inmates at Southern Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs.
It was the team’s bravery during the massive fight that earned the five officers awards from Corrections USA, a nonprofit group that represents government corrections officers, Chairman James Baiardi said before Wednesday night’s awards ceremony at Harrah’s.
Continue reading here.
By Karen SolomonPublished on Jan 30, 2019
Karen Solomon is a national speaker, author, columnist and advocate. Karenis also the co-Founder and President of Blue H.E.L.P., and she will be speaking in depth about the rise of officer suicide during her Accelerate 2019 sessions.
In 2016, an officer who served his community very well for 17 years died by suicide. He had spent the last two years of his life struggling from post-traumatic stress, a direct result of two on-duty incidents. After his death, his Lieutenant told me that he wanted to give this officer a funeral with honors because he deserved it – but some of the officers in his department thought otherwise.
Those officers said he didn’t deserve it, he wasn’t one of them anymore. He chose to leave them. He chose suicide. Others in the department countered that he did deserve honors, saying that he served for 17 years, he was one of them, and he literally gave his life to the career. Some members of his community, the same people he served for seventeen years, said, “We don’t want to waste our money or our resources on him. He did not die a hero.”
The Dalai Lama speaks to the necessity of educating the heart and mind.
By TENZIN GYATSO THE 14TH DALAI LAMANOV 13, 2017 | 4:00 AM
When the president of the United States says “America first,” he is making his voters happy. I can understand that. But from a global perspective, this statement isn’t relevant. Everything is interconnected today.
The new reality is that everyone is interdependent with everyone else. The United States is a leading nation of the free world. For this reason, I call on its president to think more about global-level issues. There are no national boundaries for climate protection or the global economy. No religious boundaries, either. The time has come to understand that we are the same human beings on this planet. Whether we want to or not, we must coexist.
History tells us that when people pursue only their own national interests, there is strife and war. This is shortsighted and narrow-minded. It is also unrealistic and outdated. Living together as brothers and sisters is the only way to peace, compassion, mindfulness and more justice.
The time has come to understand that we are the same human beings on this planet. Whether we want to or not, we must coexist.
Religion can to a certain degree help to overcome division. But religion alone will not be enough. Global secular ethics are now more important than the classical religions. We need a global ethic that can accept both believers and nonbelievers, including atheists.
My wish is that, one day, formal education will pay attention to the education of the heart, teaching love, compassion, justice, forgiveness, mindfulness, tolerance and peace. This education is necessary, from kindergarten to secondary schools and universities. I mean social, emotional and ethical learning. We need a worldwide initiative for educating heart and mind in this modern age.
At present our educational systems are oriented mainly toward material values and training one’s understanding. But reality teaches us that we do not come to reason through understanding alone. We should place greater emphasis on inner values.
Intolerance leads to hatred and division. Our children should grow up with the idea that dialogue, not violence, is the best and most practical way to solve conflicts. The young generations have a great responsibility to ensure that the world becomes a more peaceful place for all. But this can become reality only if we educate, not just the brain, but also the heart. The educational systems of the future should place greater emphasis on strengthening human abilities, such as warm-heartedness, a sense of oneness, humanity and love.
I see with ever greater clarity that our spiritual well-being depends not on religion, but on our innate human nature — our natural affinity for goodness, compassion and caring for others. Regardless of whether we belong to a religion, we all have a fundamental and profoundly human wellspring of ethics within ourselves. We need to nurture that shared ethical basis.
Ethics, as opposed to religion, are grounded in human nature. Through ethics, we can work on preserving creation. Empathy is the basis of human coexistence. It is my belief that human development relies on cooperation, not competition. Science tells us this.
We must learn that humanity is one big family. We are all brothers and sisters: physically, mentally and emotionally. But we are still focusing far too much on our differences instead of our commonalities. After all, every one of us is born the same way and dies the same way.
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet and a Nobel laureate for peace. He wrote this op-ed with Franz Alt, a television journalist and bestselling author. This piece is adapted from their new book, “An Appeal to the World: The Way to Peace in a Time of Division.”