Officers fully expect the public to be negative. What frustrates them the most is that their greatest headaches, at times, come from internal leadership challenges. From the bottom up ... with those using heavy handed disciplinary tactics to maintain control, or from the top down, those being led complaining and stirring up dissension yet offering no real solutions. In city police work the waters can become muddied with the changing of the guard after election cycles.
However, even bad leaders/ problem employees CAN teach you lessons that good leaders and good employees won’t ... What not to do, help you learn lessons on incremental leadership development/people skills, provide opportunity for character development, help establish your credibility by doing the right thing consistently, teaching servant leadership skills and expanding your sphere of influence... IF you choose for that to be the outcome.
Cynicism defined is,”An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.” My investigative tools as an officer require that I assume everyone is lying until I can prove otherwise. This “skepticism” is healthy but when it turns to cynicism ... Prejudging all those I deal with, even outside of work, as being liars and untrustworthy, that things become unhealthy.
Officer survival demands that they view each call from a threat based perspective... That is, seeing each call as potentially hazardous until proven otherwise. What’s not often understood is how this causes their bodies to operate in a heightened state of awareness where they experience adrenaline, cortisol and glucose dumps ... That if not addressed, can take its toll physiologically. Officers have a parasympathetic nervous system that works to bring equilibrium. Unfortunately it is often experienced at home where they become emotionally exhausted, withdrawn, burnout or depressed. This can have a detrimental impact on family life. Effective countermeasures are shared to offset this negative phenomena.
Dispatched to calls, held over for reports, called in for training, called out for specialty units, subpoenaed to court... Officers are conditioned to be reactive while on duty. Unfortunately, this can make being proactive at home difficult and lead to home tensions as spouses and significant others tire from holding down the fort.
The tragic death of a young child who bore a striking resemblance to your son of the same age, the suicide of the individual taking their life right in front of you as you check their welfare, brutal beatings of the
elderly, mass casualty scenes, dismembered bodies, sexually abused kids, people committing unimaginable cruelty toward each other and doing all you can to preserve life only to have an individual die in your arms... It all can take a toll on officers. Students will learn ways to mitigate the impact of critical incidents as well as support coworkers going through them.
Officers are taught they must always take control of all situations at the academy... for some reason it doesn’t seem to work on their spouse or significant other. Officers are good at reading people until that moment they sense their teenage son or daughter lying and go into cop mode and damage their relationship with him/her. Working extra security jobs, officers can build a lifestyle around that extra income ... As their family gets bigger making ends meet may require them to work multiple jobs and seldom be home. The job can adversely impact home life if an officer is not careful. Understanding what to to do with each of these challenges can make all the difference.
Making split second decisions that will be scrutinized by others for days, living life with a body and car camera constantly on, second guessing your actions because of technicalities in the law process, being ridiculed by arm chair quarterbacks, being the subject of an Internal Affairs Investigation, adrenaline fueled pursuits ... the list goes on and on... A steady diet of stress comes with the job. Alcohol can be the coping mechanism of choice, quickly getting out of hand and causing long term problems such as interference with REM sleep and other issues. We’ll discuss proven stress mitigation techniques.
Working several jobs, failure to get adequate sleep, serving on a shift at odds with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, fatigue is a real factor in an officer’s psychological wellness. Fatigued officers have a greater difficulty maintaining a positive outlook as well as the experiencing the challenge of making mistakes while in a fatigued state. Furthermore they can have increased difficulty in processing critical incidents as well as twice the sleep disorders experienced by the public.This session will share the research regarding sleep deprivation as well as proven methods of counteracting fatigue.
The advent of social media granting instant opportunity for public scrutiny through FaceBook live and other outlets has brought a new dimension of tensions to the profession. So has the 15 second video snippet involving carefully edited video clips with, at times, false narratives. Add to that hostile news outlets, media scrutiny of officer’s actions, allegations of racism and the responsibility to keep the peace between politically charged parties debating their vision for America. It can all add up to additional stress.