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Excerpt from Mental Survival by Edward Crispen ©2004

Uploaded by Edward Crispen

Police Leadership 2

“The warriors of old knew that we are defeated because the strong enemy knows how to find our
suki, the weakness within the spirit of our mind.”
—Vernon Kitabu Turner
Soul Sword
“Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within.”
—Miguel de Cervantes Saavedraa (1547–1616)

8. The Mental Aftermath

The biggest tragedy I have had to come to terms with is the


absolute coldness with which we show each other following critical
incidents. I spoke with a friend of mine who had been involved with a
critical incident in which he had to shoot and kill a man. He was a fine
young officer and one with whom I had helped train. He did not appear
to be doing as well as he should, and after talking this over with another
supervisor, I found that he too had spoken with him. He told me he
spoke with the officer, and he had told him that he was doing okay, but
his biggest worry was the lack of concern the administration was
showing toward him. He stated, “They’re not even saying anything to
me. I went off for three days and never heard from anyone.”
These words are common among those officers interviewed about
critical incidents and the aftermath. It is very important for us as
leaders of warriors to understand these officers were placed in this
position because of orders given by us, and if we cannot be there for
them when the attacks from the outside come, we have no business
giving the orders. Police officers involved in critical incidents need to
hear from the supervision above all else. It is the supervision within
whom their mental survival ability resides. Unfortunately, as managers
of an agency, our main concern is often in protecting the agency more
than the officer.
My main question is whom are we really protecting when we try so
diligently to protect the agency? Are we attempting to preserve the
history and reputation of our agency? Are we attempting to swing the
approval of the public into our corner? Are we trying to keep the
politicians happy and protected from ridicule? Or are we doing all of
these things in order to protect ourselves and our own careers? I believe
when we as managers ask ourselves why we are engaged in frantic
“damage control,” we find out quickly that we are really simply concerned
with the effects this incident will have on us instead of our warriors.
It is important for managers to understand what is happening to
officers after being involved in critical incidents. Usually following a
critical incident, our officers are placed on some form of leave for a few
days (more if necessary), and then put on an administrative schedule
when they return. This is supposed to be to help them cope with the
aftermath of the shooting, but most officers see it as the time in which
the agency tucks them away from society due to negative press. During
this time, our warriors who fought bravely, and right or wrong, made the
best effort to do what they believed was right in times of high stress, are
castigated by everyone around them.
They will not be told what is going on in the minds of their leaders,
their peers will begin to make light of the situation—calling them some
off-the-wall locker-room name like “killer,” they will have an internal
affairs unit overlooking their shoulder to officially second-guess their
actions, a grand jury and/or prosecutor will look at it for possible
criminal charges, the media and public will usually report the officer’s
actions negatively, and the family of the suspect will be reporting their
loved one—the suspect—as this gentle and loving person who cared
about children and the officer as this out-of-control killing machine.
This, however, is not the worst thing the officer will be going
through—he or she will begin to be their own biggest critic, and anything
negative repeated by others will only be used by the officer to give
credence to his or her own negative thoughts. The only defender the
officer will have is his or her spouse or immediate family; this is the one
person or group of people the officer does not want to give any credibility
or time. This is the officer’s only support group, and for various reasons,
this is the one source the officer shuts out completely.
These critical incidents often cause the breakup of marriages and
families. These critical incidents often are much more mentally taxing on
the officer than the actual physical event was. It is also just as
devastating to their families and peers with whom they work.
This will continue for days, weeks, and often months. During this
time, the officer will begin to hear rumors from around the agency about
what is being said behind his or her back. Most of the time, this is
negative in nature and does little to help in the aftermath and mental
recovery of the officer. It is, however, a fact of life in the police profession
—the grapevine provides more information in one day than management
does in a month.
After weeks and months of grueling rumors, lack of sleep, failure to
hear from the supervision about what is going on, people keeping their
distance from you, not working the streets, you finally hear the answer—
we decided you did nothing criminally wrong. Then it’s time to go back
to work. Maybe your agency allows (or hopefully requires) you to see a
psychologist. If this is the case, then it is important that the
psychologist not be hired with the requirement of getting the officers
better as soon as possible in order to get them back out on the road. If
this is the working order of the doctor, then this will become the focus of
the doctor. The mental health of the officer will take a backseat to the
need to get the officer on the road again.
Even if the officer does see a psychologist, he or she will still be
plagued with the knowledge that they cannot trust their supervision to
support them, because during those times of great need, the supervision
would not talk to them about the incident. Then, after all they had to
endure, the supervision reports they did not do anything criminally
wrong. They may even say they didn’t do anything wrong, but the fact
remains—this is a little too late.
The damage has been accomplished; our warrior has had a
completely new set of neuronal bundles uploaded into his or her brain
about the support he or she will receive from their leadership in times of
critical incident. This officer will no longer have the ability to have faith
in his or her agency again, and this lack of faith is where hesitation
exists—and hesitation results in death on the field of battle. This is an
extremely vicious circle we in the management put our officers through
in the aftermath of a critical incident.
The best way to alleviate this problem is by opening channels of
communication between the affected officers and the management. The
officer can deal with the negative comments from the public and the
media as long as they have the support of their fellow warriors and
leadership.
As I watched Mel Gibson play the part of William Wallace in the
movie Braveheart, I couldn’t help but view a particular scene as reflecting
the reactions many of our officers have toward their leaders following a
critical incident. William Wallace (Gibson) finds out the man he has
chosen to lead his people to freedom has betrayed them on the
battlefield. He falls back and just gives up with a look of hurt and
betrayal on his face. It is too much for him to bear.
This is similar to the feeling our officers get following involvement
in a critical incident. We need to stop this incessant bleeding our
profession is suffering and which is certainly self-inflicted. We need to
begin to become a true family of warriors who will defend its other
warriors at any cost. If they were criminal during their actions, we will
punish them. If they made mistakes while engaged in battle, we will
support them.
If our warriors are purposefully wrong and/or have committed
criminal acts, then we will deal with them on a case-to-case basis.
However, intentional misbehavior during times of high stress is rare. It
may be perceived as intentional, but as we have already learned, it is
often just a response from the animal brain (limbic) which does not
appear civil or friendly but is certainly natural without the proper
training. It is our responsibility to differentiate between the two.
Providing a Proper Response

A proper response must be one in which management has actually


began to respond before the incident actually occurs. This can be
accomplished initially by conducting the training as I have already
described in the previous chapters of this book.
Once our new recruits have been given an opportunity to hear from
management what will likely occur following a critical incident, and what
the supervision will be doing to ensure the best interests of the officer
will be kept in mind, then the management team needs to continue this
reassurance throughout their careers. Once we have committed to
ensuring the mental stability of our officers, and once we have committed
to guaranteeing they will receive our support as leaders, we should begin
to provide the officer and his or her family with continual mental
reassurance.
True warriors will walk through fire for their leaders, and so will
your warriors if they are treated appropriately. If you make it clear to
them you care about them and their families, they will be faithful to you.
I believe there are several things we can do to accomplish this task:

• Semiannual training in critical incident survival—physically and


mentally
• A support person from the ranks of the leadership
• Stressing the importance of controlling our egos when assessing
the mental well-being of others
• A support group from the community
• Constant contact with families of the officers
• Learning to disregard political correctness
• Learning the true nature of human beings during times of high
stress

Semiannual Training in Critical Incident Survival—Mentally and Physically

Mentally

Following the initial training during the academy, agencies need to


ensure the officers do not forget what will happen during and after a
critical incident. It is not uncommon to certify annually or semiannually
with our firearms, therefore, understanding the importance of the mental
aspect of critical incident survival, it is equally as important to train
mentally.
A suggested routine would include reviewing and testing of your
policy and procedures covering these areas. It should also include an
open discussion with an upper staff member responsible for the officers
who may be involved. This will ensure the officers are on the same page
with their leaders even after promotions have occurred causing a change
in leadership and personnel.
There should be an open discussion about the most recent use-of-
force cases with an opportunity for those involved to speak candidly with
their peers. This training should include officer safety and survival
classes as well as mental preparation and training. We ought to include
families in some of this training in order for them to understand the
possibilities of things that may occur following a critical incident. This
will also help to alleviate some of the problems officers will face when the
time comes; the spouse can explain to the affected officer that he or she
recalls being told this is what would happen and help ease the concerns
of the officer.

Physically

If we are concerned with excessive use of force during officer-


violator contacts, then we need to train as I have explained throughout
this book. However, we must also continue to train beyond the basic
academy level. Self-defense techniques should be certified along with
handgun certification at least annually, preferably semiannually.
Using the SETER training model, and training regularly with it, will
produce a skilled professional who is confident in his or her abilities.
This will also help relieve the mental stresses of this job. It would not be
costly to have a certified trainer at each region, district, or station. This
trainer could assist with individualized training efforts of our officers. If
they want to train, they will no longer have to worry about not having a
qualified trainer nearby. While outfitting an agency with training gear
can cause great financial concern, the benefits far outweigh the short-
term costs. Our officers will be able to train, they will learn to keep their
emotions under control because of their newfound confidence, and use-
of-force injuries will be reduced. What this can save in one law suit can
more than pay for the gear necessary to train. Some suggested training
gear could include:

• Mats
• Padded weapons
• Padded sparring suits
• Established safety rules (posted)

The cost of this equipment is fairly small and should be provided


at your agency for every officer to use. A separate room should be set
aside for training to include fitness equipment. While this seems a great
stretch to assume we can afford this type of equipment or space, it is
obvious to me that we cannot afford not to have them. If you chose not
to have them, then an account at a local gym for your officers should be
made available along with a place to train.
This should not be viewed as a fairy-tale wish, because if we are
serious about holding our officers accountable for their use-of-force
actions, then we must hold ourselves accountable for not providing them
the means to conduct their business professionally. The only way to
conduct use-of-force incidents professionally is to prepare and train.
This cannot be accomplished without the proper training environment.
Our officers will only be as serious about use-of-force conduct as we are
about preparing them for these incidents.

A Support Person from the Ranks of the Leadership

Having a member of the senior staff of your agency as a support


person, and one who is not directly involved with the incident but who
can share in the mental anguish and concerns of the officer and his or
her family, is especially helpful to the psyche of the officer.
I realize the need for officers to be concerned about legal
ramifications involving the discussion of the incident with others, but the
support of a member of the management is so valuable to the mental
health of the officer that we need to find a way for them to be supportive
while realizing their position and potential for becoming a witness. There
is no need to discuss the particular incident or events that occurred in
order to maintain and show support for your officers. Simply asking how
they are doing and providing for the needs of their family is often
advantageous enough.
What I have found in our profession is that we worry constantly
about an officer being killed or seriously injured, and when such an
event occurs, we flock to the victim and/or his or her family in efforts to
show overwhelming support for them. I recognize that this is done to
both provide comfort to the victims as well as provide for our own
comfort and peace of mind. However, if the officer wins the
confrontation, and the bad guy becomes the victim, then we are hard-
pressed to find a member of the organization anywhere near the officer or
his or her family in the days that follow or at least not in a show of
support or compassion.
This is unfortunate since we cannot help the officer who is killed
and barely even make a difference with the spouse of that officer, yet
where we can really make a huge impact on our officers and family, we
relegate to a local commander or supervisor. A critical incident is a
critical incident no matter whether the officer survives or not.
If we bend over backward to help the family of officers slain in the
line of duty, we should do the same for those that survive. Anything less
than this is unacceptable for officer survival. A very important step in
accomplishing this is by providing a senior staff member for the officer
and family to express difficulties they may be having emotionally and
physically. The reason for the need for someone of high rank is the
impact such a person can have on the officer and his or her family. The
senior staff member is considered to be the administration not just a part
of it. It is the administration that the officer will fear or have concern
about. This is why a senior member as the support staff can make life
much easier to cope with in the days of the aftermath of a critical
incident.

Stressing the Importance of Controlling Our Egos When Assessing the


Mental Well-being of Others

Far too often, we as warriors like to pretend we are tougher than


the average Joe, and this may be true in large respect, but in reality, that
toughness is only skin deep. In other words, underneath, we are all
human beings, and human beings have the same strengths and
weaknesses—the only difference is in how we handle them. What this
means for our mental survival is that we need to be able to communicate
and express our frustrations openly without fear of ridicule.
The reason this ridicule occurs is simply because those giving it
are throwing up barriers as a defense to their own weaknesses. We all
have things that mentally wear down on us, and we all need to get them
out to another human being. Unfortunately, there is very little
confidentiality between peers within the law enforcement profession.
This is unfortunate, since the only real confidant you may find is a friend
in the same position as you; you should be able to express those things
that trouble you without fear of it spreading to another person.
Officers should be encouraged to find the one true close friend
within whom he or she can confide in. When you tell this person
something, it needs to be expressed as a private matter, and there needs
to be a true understanding that it will not be repeated. As a supervisor, I
make it clear to anyone who tells me something that if it is private, and
they do not want me to repeat it, I will not. But I always add the
disclaimer that if it affects the functions of our agency or station, I will be
forced to repeat it to command if it is necessary to remedy the problem. I
tell them it is important that they understand my position, and that
anything they tell me that would normally require my attention as a
supervisor will certainly require the same attention regardless of the
“Hey, don’t say anything, but” disclaimer attached to it.
Armed with this knowledge, most of my subordinates have
expressed respect for my candid approach toward them, and they know
what they can tell me and what they cannot. I realize that I may not
hear about certain things going on within my station because they know
I will do something about it, but I know they respect the fact they know
where I stand and that when necessary, they can come to me for results.
However, I have noticed an increase in discussions about personal
problems of which I do keep to myself. The fact that it doesn’t get out to
the station once they have told me has helped to increase the respect I
have earned from the warriors I have working for me. I do not judge my
officers based on problems I may perceive as being small, because to
them it is not small. When a young, twenty-two-year-old officer comes to
me with a problem, I commonly have to refrain from evaluating that
problem through my eyes.
What I mean is that as problems pop up in my life, I will determine
their seriousness as a stressor based upon comparison with the
stressors I have experienced throughout my life. As you have already
read in this book, some of the experiences throughout my life may cause
me to not give credence to the problems of some of the younger officers
because I am comparing their problems to those I have experienced. And
of course, the opposite is true; their experiences could very easily dwarf
mine regardless of age. Armed with this knowledge, I must recognize
that I cannot truly appreciate the significance their predicament is for
them because I am not seeing it through their eyes.
While teaching a course on cultural issues and dealing with those
with disabilities, I have consistently spoken of an issue referred to as
“culture conflict.” Culture conflict means that when two individuals
meet to discuss the actions or concerns of another, there will always be a
bias or problem in the considered opinion of the one sitting in judgment.
For example, for a child who grew up around street violence to be
partnered with a farm child who may never have been involved in a fight
in his or her life as police partners, a response to a large gathering of
loud and obnoxious street kids will create a greater stressor for the farm
officer than the street officer. Then when you observe the different way
the two officers respond to these kids, it becomes obvious the exact same
situation causes differing degrees of stress for each officer. To one
officer, these kids are very much out of the norm for society, and his or
her judgment and subsequent decision-making processes will be greatly
affected by his culture’s conflict with theirs.
On the other hand, the other officer sees the actions of the kids as
the norm and as harmless, and therefore it registers as barely even a
stressor. His or her decision-making process will be much different than
that of the other officer.
As a result of culture conflict, it becomes necessary to refrain from
using your life experiences as a means of evaluating the effect an
incident will have on someone else. It very much may not affect you
when it happens to you, but it may affect others, and this we need to
remember.
When an officer expresses stress or concerns about how an
incident has adversely affected them, others should not respond by
acting as if he or she is being foolish or silly. It is certainly not a
laughing matter to them. If the officer experiences this type of response
from his or her peers, you can be assured he or she will not confide in
them again regardless of how serious the situation. Sometimes our own
egos are our worst enemies.
If we train our officers during the academy to recognize this issue,
they may be less prone to acting upon their own defenses by attacking
the vulnerability of others. When an officer reacts to a fatal car crash
with outward emotion, an officer who laughs at them is not acting tough
or insensitive, even though others may immediately perceive it as
insensitive. The reality is, this officer is actually throwing up a barrier to
the emotions he or she is experiencing and suppressing every time an
incident like this occurs. One officer allows it to release while the other
holds it in, causing that officer, over a long period of time, unbearable
stress.
Stress will cause this officer to become less and less friendly and
less and less approachable. Outward release does not have to require
emotions such as crying, but most often it does at least call for an open
discussion of what has just occurred with someone willing to listen and
who has the ability to understand or give credence to their concerns.

A Support Group from the Community

It is common for police officers to expect failure on the part of the


community to support law enforcement during times of critical incidents.
Fortunately, I only believe this is true for those in society who openly
express their opinions of law enforcement. The reality of the dilemma we
find ourselves in is that the majority of citizens do support the efforts of
their law enforcement officers and agencies. The problem is that they are
far too often the silent majority. Their voices are not heard through the
media because niceness in the media is not news.
Drama creates a good headline, and this in turn becomes the only
words the police hear from the community. The community is allowing a
small minority of boisterous citizens to shape how their law enforcement
professionals view them as a whole. This is due in large part to our
failures to get them involved and in a small part to our failure in actively
being involved with our media outlets.
To get the people involved may prove to be a little difficult. But if
our goal is to have someone who will tell the positive side of law
enforcement to the community, it is often best to have someone from the
community handle this for you. In their book Deadly Force Encounters,
Dr. Alexis Artwohl and Loren Christensen explain their theory of
providing a brief academy for citizens who wish to become part of the
police support group.i
The support group will learn the basic rigors of police work and
have a greater understanding of why officers react the way they do to
situations under high stress. By placing some of them in the same
situations and allowing them to respond accordingly, you will create a
group of citizens who will become the voice of defense and explanation
for the officers involved in critical incidents at times when the agency
must remain silent for legal reasons.
Having a citizen’s group who are quoted in the newspaper
defending the lifestyles of police work beside the quote from those who
just want to be seen as attacking the “establishment” is tremendously
beneficial to the psyche of the officers who were involved and those who
were not. Police officers are tough, and they are warriors, but constant
ridicule by the media and public without a defense will wear down even
the toughest of warriors.
It is known that a lie told often enough without rebuttal eventually
becomes the truth regardless of the facts because public opinion has
been persuaded, and our officers are well aware of this. A support group
from the community who may not be familiar with the case, but who are
familiar with the officers, can be beneficial to the officers and the agency.
They will at least be just as educated about what occurred in an incident
as those who are being quoted from groups who loathe law enforcement
(they will most likely be more educated about how things occur than
those groups).
It is important that you allow these groups access to your officers
and give them a voice in your administration. Their insight into what we
do day to day may be helpful in determining courses of action for future
events. We may find out that our approach to a given problem is not
what is expected by the public, and since they are our true supervisors,
then it would be helpful for us to get insight from those who are actually
in charge.
This may a big pill to swallow for many who run police
departments since they often think they are the final word, but the truth
is we are public servants, and the public should be involved in the
process. The reason we understand what has occurred during a critical
incident, and the reason we understand why something was done is
because we were involved in the process.
If we want the community to support our efforts and those of our
officers, we must have them involved in the process as well. This will
help alleviate some of the unnecessary criticism our officers will take
during the aftermath of a critical incident, and this alone could help
decrease a great amount of the stress placed on our officers and their
families.
Constant Contact with the Families of the Officers

Commanders of agencies or stations should have regular meetings


with family members under their control. All too often, there are things
going on at a station that the spouse or other loved ones are completely
unaware of and their officers are not willing to share. This is not a time
to get together and snitch about the quality of work their spouse may be
doing or troubles going on within the agency, but it could certainly be an
opportunity to have open discussions to address concerns the families
may be having as a result of the demands we place on their men and
women under our direction. It will also help the supervisors get to know
the families of their warriors and to place a face to a name. One day you
may have to go to that home with some of the worst news you could ever
have to give to the family of a police officer—do not go there as a
stranger.
If you reduce the stress and tension the family is under by
providing them with information, you will reduce the pressure the officer
is under. If you reduce the pressure the officer is under, you will reduce
the likelihood that problems at home affect the operations of the officer
on the job. You will also provide a more friendly and approachable
leadership who has demonstrated their genuine concern for their
warriors and their families. This alone can improve the lives of the
officers enough as to allow them to be able to concentrate more fully
upon keeping themselves safe during contacts with suspects.
In the aftermath of a critical incident, these families will have
already established a rapport with the leadership of their officers, and
they will be able to trust that which you tell them. Hearing the words of
a stranger tell you, “We are just investigating the incident and can’t
really discuss the case with you or your spouse, but everything is okay
because it is just a formality” will not be accepted as anything but
suspicious. The family and the officer will immediately believe all of the
negative rumors they hear and discount anything positive uttered by the
management as suspicious until they see it in writing and finalized.
Then they will immediately have negative feelings toward the agency for
having put them through such an emotional roller-coaster ride for no
apparent reason. Opening communication lines with the families prior to
an incident will create a healthy environment for our officers both
physically and mentally.

Learning to Disregard Political Correctness

This topic is considered a political hot potato, and most would like
to avoid it altogether. That is precisely why it must be discussed in this
book. Political correctness has fragmented our lines of communication
so much that today rarely can you carry on an honest and open
discussion with someone about a hot topic with any sense of sincerity.
People are more concerned with being labeled one thing or another
than they are with getting to the root of a problem. It is true that to be
against the police and their actions now is politically correct and has
been so for so long that it has become almost a fad or at least a
requirement for anyone who considers themselves to be elite and wise.
I blame a lot of this on our inability or outright refusal to challenge
or defend the negative comments uttered throughout the media and
those in academia. As a child growing up in America, my friends and I
never would have dreamed of being disrespectful to a police officer.
Today, being disrespectful is deemed a right by much of our youth.
As our youth grow up, they become adults with contempt for police
officers and any sense of authority within our society. It is certain that
many politicians have taken advantage of this and used these hot-button
issues to get elected by stating they will reform the police and stop these
incidents (whatever they may be) from occurring. However, once elected,
they soon find out the perceptions are just that, perceptions, and they do
nothing to change anything because what is right is right. Blaming an
entire profession on a select few is asinine, but it happens daily to law
enforcement.
Why does the leadership of law enforcement allow a select few in
society to shape the public’s opinion of us? The answer is just as
ludicrous as the fact that it is occurring. Most reason that they refuse to
get involved in politics or into a debate with citizens over what may or
may not be occurring within the ranks of our profession. Most of the
allegations thrown at law enforcement are met with silence; it is often
our philosophy that if we ignore it, it will go away. Unfortunately, this
creates an environment in which police are made to look like fools on
television sitcoms, universities become hostile toward police, and
politicians begin to support the convoluted actions of those teaching our
youth to stand up to the police.
In this environment, law enforcement officers do not have a chance
to shape the opinions of the public following critical incidents if we
remain silent as administrators. If we believe we are not getting involved
because we will appear as going against the public, then I might remind
you that the public you will appear to be going against is usually the
small-number of boisterous citizens who will not support law
enforcement anyway, and the majority of citizens who support law
enforcement see no need to defend that which we ourselves chose to
remain silent on.
Our youth are becoming educated to disrespect law enforcement
officers, and our pool from which to select quality applicants is growing
ever so smaller. If you do not believe our youth are being educated
against the police, let me share with you an incident which occurred a
few years ago.
I was attending a national conference with the Academy of
Criminal Justice Sciences. In one of the meetings I attended, a
discussion ensued about police tactics and professionalism. Now, it is
important to understand that this conference was made up of criminal
justice professors from around the nation and from many different
universities. These people are responsible for teaching criminal justice to
students wishing to get involved in the criminal justice process as a
profession. It is obvious the makeup of these students would include
those wishing to become police officers as well as those who want to get
involved in social programs, lawyers, and so on. Therefore, I was very
shocked to hear the absolute fiery rhetoric that was spewed throughout
that meeting toward America’s police.
Sometime during the discussion, a professor stood up and made
the following comment. “I believe that some of the worse criminals we
have in our society today are wearing the uniform of a police officer. I
have yet to find one honest and clean cop. In my opinion, the only good
cop is a dead cop, and I proudly celebrate the death of each and every
one.” This comment was not met with silence or obvious uneasiness by
the audience as I would have expected, rather this comment was met
with applause, and a few stood up. To add to my disbelief, a man who
seconded the opinion of the professor was a retired chief of police who
used his old position to bolster the opinion of the professor by
proclaiming he had to deal with crooked cops the entire time he was a
chief.
He expressed thankfulness that he was a professor now and
therefore insinuated he was now clean and free from the police
profession. This was a serious shock to my senses as a police officer
attending a national conference on criminal justice. I had expected to be
considered one of reputable standing among that group, instead I had a
very hard time finding anyone friendly to police.
I questioned a criminology professor who was with me about this
incident, and she stated it was very difficult to find a criminologist who
favors law enforcement like she did. She made it clear she was certainly
not the norm in a profession of people who found it utterly repulsive to
think that the police were honorable.
I have attended several of these conferences now, and not because
I am a glutton for punishment, but because I can observe the trends of
society by observing what is being fed to them through our educators.
To avoid labeling the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences as negative
toward police, I will state that I have not found any of its founders or
those who run the program to have shown such disrespect for police,
and I have found a much different tone in the ones held in other
countries, but I cannot deny the absolute detestation shown by many of
the professors that attend.
What this shows me is that while law enforcement has been busy
conducting its business quietly, those opposing law enforcement have
been on a personal mission to express their displeasure and hatred
toward law enforcement under the guise of academia, and unfortunately,
our politicians often turn to academia for advice on social decisions and
proposed laws. This is creating a very volatile environment for our police
officers who must face a hostile public who are being raised to disrespect
police, police administrators who demand the officers show respect and
turn the other cheek in order to defray any negative press toward the
agency, and politicians who are taking advantage of this crisis to make
gains in votes. This is causing an increase in the likelihood an officer
will be involved in a confrontation with our citizens.ii
As administrators, we should be willing to acknowledge when an
accusation thrown at law enforcement is factual and be just as willing to
stand up and denounce it as a falsehood no matter how politically
charged the allegation is. If law enforcement as a whole is not involved
in poor behavior, we can no longer set back and allow the media and
those who would use them to promote their own political agenda to
shape our image. We need to actively participate in educating the public
about our daily operations.
If we cannot effectively turn the public opinion in our favor or at
least provide some motivation for the silent majority to stand up and be
heard, we will continue to see an increase in law enforcement use-of-
force cases and critical incidents.

Learning the True Nature of Human Beings during Times of High Stress

The first step in accomplishing this task has been completed as


you finish this book. We are animals by nature, and unless trained
appropriately, we will respond to attacks or perceived attacks upon our
lives as animals do. I have discussed this already in great length, so I
will not rehash that which has already been discussed. However, I will
discuss the need to get this information out and into the hands of those
who think police are like robots without emotion or humanity.
Those people who believe police officers can combat aggression
with niceness are seriously disillusioned, and it is the job of the police
administrators to confront this issue head-on, despite the concerns that
it may be politically incorrect to challenge some of these groups. The
reason it is politically incorrect is that we have allowed these groups who
oppose law enforcement in general to establish the rules of combat.
Those who make the rules will rule.
It is time that law enforcement changes the rules by getting much
more involved in the process. We need to be active in the community
more than as enforcement officers. The administrators need to attend as
many public functions as they can and be actively involved in town hall
meetings where the citizens can have direct opportunities to interact with
those making the decisions on their personal safety.
If we improve the relationship we have with the community, we will
certainly improve the mental health of our officers by reducing the
frustration they have with the public or what is often termed by police as
the “ungrateful public.” Below are the seven principles in summary:

• Semiannual training in critical incident survival—physically and


mentally.
• A support person from the ranks of the leadership.
• Stressing the importance of controlling our egos when assessing
the mental well-being of others.
• A support group from the community.
• Constant contact with families of the officers.
• Learning to disregard political correctness.
• Learning the true nature of human beings during times of high
stress.

If we integrate these seven principles into the culture of our agency


and profession, we will have provided a proper response to the mental
aftermath of a critical incident long before it has actually occurred. All
involved will be better prepared to deal with the crisis, and our warriors
will have an environment which is rich for survival. If we take the stress
our officers have about their leadership and what they will or will not do,
we only need to concern ourselves with the traditional stress this jobs
causes. Management should never be the source of stress for our
warriors, because it certainly is the most powerful of all stressors.
Dr. Alexis Artwohl and Loren W. Chistensen, Deadly Force Encounters. What Cops Need to Know to
i

Mentally and Physically Prepare and Survive a Gunfight (Paladin Press, 1997), 255.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 1999 to 2000, the number of police officers killed
ii

in the line of duty increased by 21.4 percent and the number of police officers assaulted rose from
55,971 to 56,054. We should be seeing a reduction trend not an increase, but the opposite is true, and it
is the belief of the author that this is directly a result of our failure to combat the constant criticism of
those who oppose law enforcement for whatever reason. The statistics for 2001 were not used due to
the events of September 11, which would greatly skew the numbers due to the number of police
officers killed that day.