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.
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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.”
Wishing you the best in 2019!
“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.”
By ADAM MCGILL | December 30, 2018 at 10:00 am
On Dec. 26 in Newman, California, police Cpl. Ronil Singh, 33, was shot and killed after making a traffic stop. From 1992 until Jan. 9, 2005, when Ceres police Sgt. Howard Stevenson was gunned down, I had never personally known a single officer killed in the line of duty. Officers were killed during this period, but not in my circle.
Now, in just the past 13 years, the number of officers I’ve known killed on duty has grown to 11.
The number of U.S. police officers killed in the line of duty is on the rise. So far this year, officer deaths have already increased 12 percent over 2017 numbers, and it’s not just officers being murdered. Peace officers are taking their own lives at an alarming rate, more often than being killed by other means.
Oddly, this escalation of peace officer deaths is occurring as crime is trending downward, but calls to police are trending upward.
What’s changed in policing that may be contributing to more officers being killed?
“Through a cop’s eyes are witness to life in all its darkness and light, all its hope and despair and all its pain and healing. It is to witness a world raw and stripped of its niceties and correctness – to see a world that challenges everything a cop once believed and hoped for.
However, in its finest moments are reminders of why policing exists – the moments where the cop can be strong, courageous, kind, present and ‘Just’ for those we have promised to serve and protect. It is in these moments that lives are touched and stories are written, igniting ripples that shape and influence the fabric and future of people’s lives, communities and perhaps even the world! It is in these moments that the heart swells, purpose is realized, and the universe is right for one moment because the cop was there.”
|The holidays are a magical time of year that is often filled with joy, laughter, love and unity. It is a time of gathering with loved ones, filled with generosity and giving; a time to rejoice; a time to reflect on the past year; a time to begin planning for the year to come.|
|The holiday season is a reminder of what we feel inside of our hearts — a reflection that we should be feeling and sharing throughout the year.|
|We trust that your heart is full of warmth, love, and cheer, and that you will continually spread this magic to those you love, lead, and share your time with. We wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season, and the best in the new year!|
The Blue Courage Team