EVER BEEN SMACKED IN THE HEAD WITH A CLUB?
Most people will never know the stress or fear that a police officer will experience hundreds of times over the course of their career. The stress and fear that can affect a police officer can originate from multiple sources in their world.
This mental anguish is unlike anything the civilian population will ever encounter.
It is almost as if there are two separate realities running parallel to each other. The reality is that the two won’t ever collide. It could be that some people choose to bury their heads in the sand. They pretend that the ‘bad man’ will never come because they have haven’t met him yet.
COPING WITH A SHIT-STORM ON THE STREET
Sometimes civilians hear cops talking about a call or crash they handled, the civilian forms an opinion that the officers are cold and crass or maybe even joking about it. The fact is; that’s the farthest thing from the truth.
That “casual” conversation is sometimes necessary to get past the gut-wrenching experience they had to handle. They talk about it and try to get it out of their minds before it erodes what may be left of their composure or sanity. Often our talk involves some of the ‘dark humor’ cops are known to share.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t care about what happened or feel for the people who may have been involved. By not bottling it up, it is the pressure-relief mechanism we need to reduce or prevent PTSD.
Police officers deal with some of the most life-threatening situations imaginable. I recall a conversation with my brother (Michigan State Trooper K9 handler) one day. I called him to see what he was up to.
I started off by asking “What’s up?” He was casual and nonchalant with his response, “Not much. Just waiting for a guy with gun we’re trying to get.” I responded back “Cool. Hit me up later.”
End of conversation. Seemed routine to me at the time.
My brother has called me at work after I have dealt with a violent and combative arrest and it was the same type of conversation, “What’s up?” Me: “Nothing just got done fighting with a drunk.” “What’s up with you?”
We then just go on to discuss what we called for, no big deal. We both know all too the well the risks associated with the job we do. We cannot worry and stew over what we may be about to do or what we had just done.
IT’S ALMOST LIKE A SOOTHING MASSAGE FOR THE BRAIN
The casual sound of our voices is an effort both of us make to give the other the reassurance we need. It conveys these really important messages:
- You’ve got this.
- I’ve got this.
- I’m glad you’re alright, be careful.
We have had dozens of conversations much like these over the years.
How many non-law enforcement civilians could remain that unruffled by a conversation like that with a family member? My guess is zero! There would be fifty follow-up questions to go along with a barrage of “What the hell are you thinking?” statements.
These are the situations that the general public will never experience on a day-to-day basis. They will never be in a role where they are faced with those dangers and that is a good thing.
PULL UP YOUR BIG-BOY PANTS
What cops see and deal with is not for the faint of heart. It would shock the conscience of almost all everyday citizens.
The fact is these conversations happen constantly all across the country involving cops and other first responders. We know what may happen every time we suit up.
There is always the possibility it will be a tough day. The way we talk with each other doesn’t mitigate the tragedies.
Those conversations, which can seem uncaring and insensitive at the time, help all of us to deal with the citizenry at large. They also assist us in being able to respond to the next tragedy, because there will, without a doubt, be a next one.
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
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