Police Depression: The Silent Killer | In Public Safety

Police Depression: The Silent Killer

By Mark Bond, professor of criminal justice at American Military University

Depression in police work is a silent killer. Depression can be stealth, even for the most resilient officer, and can take a physical and mental toll on the mind and body if it goes unrecognized and untreated. Unfortunately, the silence within police culture discourages the acknowledgment of depression and mental illness. This silence cannot continue.

Every year, just as many officers die by their own hand as do officers killed in the line of duty. Yet, the silence continues.

[RelatedAddressing Mental Wellness and Police Suicides: A Lifelong Commitment]

Police officer distressedAt the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. we honor the men and women who have been killed in the line of duty protecting their communities. We do not honor these officers for the manner in which they lost their lives serving, but rather how they lived their lives protecting their communities.

Yet, no officer who has taken his or her own life because of duty-related mental illness has his or her name engraved on the Wall of Heroes. These officers died because of mental health issues brought on by their honorable service to their communities as peace officers. They are the forgotten! Their names are only whispered within their departments because of how they died. Being ignored often contributes to why they got sick in the first place and yet, the silence continues.

[RelatedAnalyzing Law Enforcement Deaths: What’s Missing from These Statistics?]

It’s Time to Acknowledge All Fallen Officers
The United States military lives by a code that they leave no man behind, no matter the cost. Everyone comes home. It is time to bring all fallen police officers home, regardless of the manner in which they died.

Engrave their names on the wall among the other fallen police heroes and honor them by speaking their names and acknowledging that depression brought on by police-related work caused this illness that lead to their death.

It is not about how any of the heroes died in their service to community, it is about how they lived.

Common Signs of Police Officer Depression
Depression is a silent killer in law enforcement because it often slowly builds up, unnoticed, due to constant work-related fatigue and other stressors. In some cases, it is dismissed as just feeling down or under the weather.

Here is a list of common signs of depression:

  • Withdrawing from other officers
  • Feeling sad and hopeless for more than a few days
  • Lack of energy, enthusiasm, and motivation
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Reckless drinking of alcohol
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Being restless, agitated, and irritable
  • Weight gain or loss out of the norm
  • Sleeping more than usual (sometimes all day)
  • Trouble with memory (out of character)
  • Feeling bad about yourself or feeling guilty (signs that last for more than a few days)
  • Anger and rage over something trivial (out of character)
  • Feeling that you can’t overcome difficulties in your life
  • Trouble functioning in your personal life (department discipline issues, divorce, recent loss of immediately family member)
  • Openly talks about suicide
  • Taking unnecessary risks

If you notice an officer displaying any of these signs for more than a few days, intervene and take the time to check in with them. If you say nothing and ignore the red flags, the outcome could be tragic.

[RelatedSilent Suffering: Warning Signs and Steps to Prevent Police Suicide]

The number one killer of police officers is suicide caused by depression. Yet, the silence from within the police profession acknowledging officer depression is deafening.

The time for dialog and courage to recognize all our law enforcement heroes for their service, regardless of the manner of their death, is upon us. Honor these fallen officers by petitioning to have all fallen officers’ names engraved on the memorial in D.C. Leave no brother or sister behind, no matter the cost. Everyone comes home!

About the Author: Mark Bond worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms trainer for more than 29 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state, and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in Criminal Justice, and M.Ed in Educational Leadership with Summa Cum Laude Honors. As a lifelong learner, he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education with a concentration in distance education. Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at American Military University & American Public Universityand is one of the faculty directors in the School of Public Service & Health. You can contact him at MBond(at)apus.edu.

Training Class Does Pompier Ladder Training

Providence (RI) 49th Training Academy
By Captain/Director of Training Scott Mello

The Providence Fire Department started the 49th Training Academy class on March 11, 2013. Candidates were competitively selected from more than 2900 applicants. Basis for selection was the candidate’s written score and a passing completion of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Candidates Physical Ability Test (CPAT). Fifty-five candidates were selected to attend the 49th Training Academy class..

On March 18, 2013, the 55 trainees and eight Providence Fire Department instructors, under the direction of Captain Scott G. Mello, the Director of Training for the Providence Fire Department, traveled to Boston, Massachusetts. The 49th Training Academy class had a unique opportunity to use the Boston Fire Department’s Training Facility located on Moon Island, in Quincy Massachusetts. The training was a collaborative effort between the Providence Fire Department’s Division of Training and the Boston Fire Department’s Division of Training led by Captain James Hoar.

The Providence Trainees would be given the opportunity to carry on a tradition that all previous Providence Fire Department Training Academies had performed. That tradition is the pompier ladder climb. The pompier ladder, or “pomps” as the Boston Jakes call the ladder, is also known as a scaling ladder. The ladder serves no other purpose than that of training. It consists of a single beam, a gooseneck and hook at the top of the ladder, with small rungs extending from either side of the single beam. It has been reported that only three northeast fire departments still require trainees to perform a pompier ladder climb.

IAFF Local 799 President Paul Doughty called the climb a “rite of passage” that few fire fighters can claim they have participated in. The purpose of the climb is to get trainees to trust their equipment and weed out any candidates who have an aversion to heights.

Each trainee was required to perform a five-story single person climb. Each climb required personal fortitude and upper-body strength. The trainee had to climb out onto the pompier on the second floor window, where they were instructed to hook into the gooseneck of the pompier, with a ladder belt. Then the trainee had to lean back and upon order from the drill master put his arms out to a horizontal position. Upon direction, the trainee would then place “arms in. Unhook and climb one.” The trainee would then climb in the window, raise the ladder up to the next floor and hook the ladder on the sill above, and climb up the ladder where the process of “hooking in” was done once again. The process required the trainee to climb up to the fifth floor, then repeat the process and return to the second floor.

The training occurred over the course of three days and included instructions in pompier ladders, rope repelling, ladder evolutions, and vertical ventilation with various gas powered saws. Trainees received instruction from both Boston and Providence Fire Instructors.

After the completion of the pompier ladder training, the 49th Trainees will receive an additional 18 weeks of instruction. The trainees will receive instruction in the Nation Fire Protection Association 1001, Level 1 Level 2 Fire Fighter certification, Providence Fire Departments Standard Operation Procedures and Training Bulletins, Emergency Medical Technician Intermediate Level certification, Hazardous Material Technician certification, and Emergency Vehicle Operation Course certification.

Helping Hands for Freedom’s 2nd Annual Heroes Gala at the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Featured in The Protector Magazine, Helping Hands for Freedom is hosting their annual Heroes Gala, join us in support of an amazing organization.

Heroes Gala Poster

Save the Date – Saturday, April 12 – Indiana Grand Racing & Casino – Indianapolis, Indiana:

Join us for our 2nd Annual Heroes Gala featuring food, drinks, raffle and live music from the nationally recognized Willis Clan that were recently featured on the TODAY Show. You may have seen their reality show on the Great American Country channel so you know being a member of the Willis family comes with pressure and expectations. Toby and Brenda Willis are parents to 12 children ranging in age from 2 to 21. The eight girls and four boys have been, are or will be home-schooled. The Willis Clan is a family of amazing musicians, dancers, athletes, writers, and artists. Living in middle Tennessee, they merge their Irish roots with other music and dance genres to create a unique blend of the old and new. Various groupings of the kids are internationally ranked Irish dancers and singers, national swing dance champions and state wrestling champions.

The Willis Clan

In addition to the Willis Clan, the evening will feature entertainment provided by Indiana’s own American Idol star, Marrialle Sellars, and local talent, Brenna Shannon, who happens to be the daughter of co-founder SSG Patrick Shannon.

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino has signed on to be the title sponsor again and will be hosting the event at their spectacular venue.  The silent & live auction will feature over 40 incredible items with the food provided by the Casino’s world class chefs.  Mobile Network 1 and Real Scene TV are promoting the evening.

Ticket prices start at $100 per person. Discounts are available for couples and tables. To purchase tickets call HHFF’s ticket manager, Carol Beck: 317-319-8017.

via The 2nd Annual Heroes Gala at the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino is Announced.