Supporting Fallen

Law Enforcement Families

Surviving Law Enforcement Life

Surviving Law Enforcement Life

In Law Enforcement, being involved in a tragic event can bring on the same issues a combat vet faces

In today’s political climate there are many aspects that effect the ability of Law Enforcement to carry out their duties. There are politicians clamoring for further rules and regulations to be followed; agitated individuals and hate groups abounding; citizens demanding that law enforcement become expert in mediation, psychology, physiology, and many other aspects of life. This is compounded by the increasing number of individuals willing to confront assault and/or shoot a Law Enforcement Officer. Along with the stresses of an officer’s personal life, it’s no wonder that there are more suicides than officers killed in the line of duty.

Law Enforcement Officers usually have personalities that compel a man or woman to be willing to put everything, including their lives on the line for the citizens of their communities.

Law Enforcement Officers usually have personalities that compel a man or woman to be willing to put everything, including their lives on the line for the citizens of their communities.

When an officer has to deal daily with such tragic events as a horrific traffic accident, violent assault, child abuse or homicide, it can wear on their emotions. After time an officer can become what may be perceived as callus or hardened. Often, this change may not be seen as problematic and emotional issues can be well hidden. When asked, an officer may just say that “all is good, I’m OK”, when in fact, this is not accurate.

Family life, relationships and marriage are difficult under any circumstance, but combined with the everyday stress and anguish of daily confronting and dealing with stressful circumstances, problems and emotional issues are often compounded.

Why is it that a Law Enforcement Officer experiencing these issues chooses to take his or her own life?  In most suicides, it's not a single factor; it's a combination of issues.  Today's work environment, stress, personal relationships and hardships are all seen as contributing causes.

I am not a Psychologist, nor am I an expert in Suicides. But what I do have is 31 years of Law Enforcement experience with 12 of those years as a Hostage/Crisis Negotiator. As a Hostage/Crisis Negotiator, I was involved with numerous negotiations involving suicides. Each was different with separate issues. The only common reality was the final cry for help.

Demons that foreshadow the Guilt

With the Military, in a combat zone, it was the “Guilt,” the horror of seeing your friend and battle buddy blown up, shot and killed. These images stay with you for life and those who don’t experience this can never fully understand. It is so often the guilt that plagues combat vets, “Why did my friends die and I didn’t.”

In Law Enforcement, being involved in a tragic event can bring on the same type of issues a combat vet faces. The difference is that Law Enforcement is dealing with citizens. Seeing an adult, a juvenile, or especially a child, as a victim of a horrific event can and does leave an indelible memory.  This is especially true in Law Enforcement when one of their own is killed in the line of duty.

The Law Enforcement community is small. In fact, according to the Department of Justice, most Law Enforcement Agencies (75%) in the United States have fewer than 25 officers. The common perception is to see police departments as large Departments like Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or New York. This could not be further from the truth. The vast majority of departments are considered small.

Another problem is that no officer wants to be known as having an emotional or psychological issue. “I’m a Cop, I can handle it”. Many departments and agencies “label” officers as being problems and these labels stay with the officer. The last label an officer wants is “Unfit for duty.” After assigning that label an agency will relieve the officer, take his/her gun and either assign desk duty or send him/her home. Either way, that officer is looked at and treated differently. Although law enforcement agencies have psychological services for its employees, the stigma remains.

However, there is help; several non-profit organizations have been established just for this problem. Law enforcement as a whole needs to eliminate the stigma, to care for each other and not be ashamed to ask for help when needed. Cops are not super beings; they are human and sometimes only need to get some guidance and help.  

The Fallen Knights Foundation has teamed up with COPLINE, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving law enforcement officers and their families by providing 24/7 trained peer support for crisis intervention along with referrals to specifically skilled mental health professionals for follow up and continued assistance. COPLINE offers a CONFIDENTIAL 24-hour hotline answered by retired law enforcement officers who have access to continuous critical clinical support in order to help callers through the initial crisis as well as provide ongoing assistance with the successful management of various psychosocial stressors that impact a significant number of law enforcement officers and families throughout the U.S.

Contact COPLINE

1 (800) 267 - 5463

www.copline.org

Be safe and always watch your Six…


Bob Molina
President/CEO

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