A thought on the Ugly Gorilla

September 16, 2015 An article appeared in Law Enforcement Today titled “The Ugly Gorilla-Disability” written by Juli Adcock.

Well worth the read Juli Adcock touches on how Officers are taught from the very beginning about survival, stress management, including incident management and relationships.

She discusses two unspoken problems she encountered, which were suicide and disability. While they may not have been touched upon during her Academy or FTO classes I believe that all classes are not created equal. Some may teach more some may teach less. Regardless her article brings about a subject that nobody wants to think about after classes.

The fact that although you may survive your day you still have to live and cope with it that evening and well into the years that follow.  Some Officers if not most are told by their spouses that the job has changed them to which they joking reply “Copy that”, “10-4” or “affirmative!”. But in reality the dark humor takes it’s toll in and of itself on our souls.

We can not look upon other humans as we once did because all they call us for is when they need help or are in trouble. For the most part it is when they are at their worst that we see other people and when we catch  them hurting each other.

Then naturally the media is more interested in what we do wrong than what we do right which is more often than not. Politicians who carry the power of the purse who are reliant on voters and public opinion will succumb to pressure from the smallest of groups to see that Officers are held accountable for any acts sometimes before any facts are known. They can make your entire career miserable.

For this reason it is important to always demonstrate why you are out there and not hide your true reasons. Hold on to your beliefs and show the reasons that you decided to join the Department in the first place. Nobody was drafted, we joined, took oaths and laced up our boots for the best job on earth to help people.  Do it for them until you can’t. But realize that there are limitations.

Also understand that there are more limitations that may happen in your career than bullets or bad guys. Motor vehicle accidents and crippling injuries happen to the best of the best. Prepare yourself mentally for the fact that your Kevlar vest is not the same as having a big “S” on your chest. Officers drive more miles in a year than most people and they drive faster, under every road condition when other drivers are cautioned to stay off the roads.

Officers in today’s climate are becoming targets. On or off duty you can be targeted, filling a tank of gas at a gas station or sitting in your own home recovering. The fact of the matter is that most Officers do not end up finishing the job the same way that they started. While that may sound like common knowledge and a given to most it is unlike most other professions.

While Officers may understand that that they have a far greater risk of dying in a vehicle accident than being shot, they seldom practice driving skills. Likewise they understand that there is a far greater risk of having emotionally disturbing problems after the job ends or even during their time on the job, they do little to help themselves with it.

The suggestion is clear, as Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” well for too long the “Brotherhood” behind the badge has been close knit. It should be because far too many people misunderstand what it is to be a Law Enforcement Officer. However we can take steps to be more open and a greater part of the public that we serve.

We can strive to be more “Andy of Mayberry” interacting with our families and the families of the people we work with.  Always treating the people we encounter as we would want or families treated. talking to them as we would want our families talked to by a LEO.  Take an extra moment and explain the citation or procedure.

Not only does that allow us to serve better by allowing the public to trust more and open dialog further. But should you as an individual suffer the weight of the fierce gorilla in the room that Juli Adcock discusses in her article, the easier it will be for you to make that transition back from the Thin Blue Line.

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See “The Ugly Gorilla-Disability” written by Juli Adcock.

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