Archive for the ‘Rank and Leadership’ Category

Police Psychology | PTSD 3:  Car Accidents

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP

 

Of course, they’re driving around 24 hours a day, non-stop.  The problem is there are other people on the road.  The cops have lights on the car and fancy writing, but that just attracts people who have only partial attention to a mundane task like driving.  Two cars hit, one of them is a cop car.  From helping cop to a victim, from a person in charge to helpless man lying on the ground in pain or even unconscious.   At an accident scene, we are worried about everything from keeping the traffic moving to making sure everyone gets the help that is needed.  But the help the cop needs may not be as obvious as a broken bone, or some blood-stained clothes.  And that becomes a major problem for policing.

A New York Times article in June of last year told a story about a physician that was analyzing a soldier’s brain that had been in Iraq and Afghanistan, and had died of a drug overdose.  He was complaining of sleep problems, cognitive problems, memory loss, balance problems and suicidal depression.  The physician notices a buildup of a certain type of protein and some dust-like scarring between the gray matter and the white matter of the brain.  Many other soldiers’ brains seem to have the same scarring and complained of the same symptoms.  The physicians felt it was from blast exposure, or all the loud sounds a soldier was exposed to.  Up to 20 percent of soldiers seem to have these symptoms at different levels of severity.  Problem was soldiers didn’t want to report it for fear they would be seen as going crazy.  The article opines that in World War I, thousands of soldiers were shot for desertion or cowardice that may well of had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  In the 2015 movie “Concussion,” Will Smith play Dr. Bennett Amalu who fights against the NFL when he discovers microtears in the brains cells of football players and the NFL won’t recognize it.  Players complained of headaches, problems sleeping …(you know the rest).   The NFL and the American Military recognize it as a disorder, when will our police departments become aware of it and recognize it? (more…)

Share this Article:

Police Psychology | Take the Operational Triangle Home

by Doug Gentz, Ph.D. Psychological Services

The operational triangle was developed to provide a graphic way to represent priorities for officers in the field. At the base operational-triangleof the triangle is Officer Safety which always comes first. The middle level of the triangle is about building Rapport which involves interacting with other people in a way that creates or enhances a relationship and increases your ability to exert the power of influence. Problem Solving is at the top of the triangle and could be as simple as giving someone directions to the bus station or as complex as making a successful case against a homicide suspect.

As opposed to influence, problem solving relies on the power of authority, meaning you can make something happen that eliminates the problem. Your directions relieve the lost pedestrian’s ignorance about the bus station and the case you build against the murderer takes him off the street. Somewhere in between is arresting a drunk driver. When you’re through solving a problem, you can usually go 10-8. (more…)

Share this Article:

Police Psychology | Hanukkah Wishes and Communication

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP

Share this Article:

Police Psychology:  Be the Solution, Not the Cause

by Lt. Jason Childers, Texas

We frequently hear about how stressful police work is, and the sacrifices we make in the service of our community is an oft-repeated narrative in police circles. The jerks we deal with on the street, the trauma of violent incidents, rotating shifts, the state of hypervigilance, concerns of personal safety and missed family time are all considered as sources of stress inherent to the job. These shared difficulties help to draw us together as a law enforcement family, but one factor consistently overlooked is that we are one of the main sources of our own problems. The cop staring back at you in the mirror may have more to do with causing job related stress than anything dealt with on the street. The good news is, the cop staring back at you in the mirror can also be part of the solution, especially if you’re a supervisor.
 
How was life when you entered the academy compared to how things are going today? With stringent entry-level standards in policing, most police officers begin their careers in excellent physical and mental health. Along the way, many officers develop signs and symptoms of stress which include poor job performance, sleep disturbances, marital discord, domestic violence, PTSD, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide. You’ve likely been through some of this yourself, or you’ve seen others deal with it.
 
But where does all of this come from?

(more…)

Share this Article:

Police Psychology | Morale

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP

 

My very first job and first elected office, I was voted president of the Mighty Mouse Club by the kids in my neighborhood.  Mighty Mouse was a cartoon mighty-mousesuper hero mouse character that beat up cats in the 40’s 50’s and early 60’s.  The club members talked behind my back and all got a penny from their parents and each gave me a penny for my being the president.  I was so honored.  They didn’t tell me I was going to be paid!  I remember I was about kindergarten age at the time.  I remember I snuck to the ice cream truck when it came by later in the day, and I spent that seven cents on seven ice cream cones and gave one to each of the seven kids in the club.  I remember I didn’t order one for myself because I didn’t think I had enough money, but the ice cream man gave me one anyway.  (When I look back, my mother probably really paid for the cones, she had to watch while I went into the street).  I thought I was doing something that made all the kids happy.  I remember a girl named Margery, who lived two doors down from me, saying before we left that day that it was the best club in the whole world.

I had a conversation this week with an officer from a Midwest state who called me out of the blue.  He said he was a reader and that he wanted to get it across to his superiors that morale was very low and the trainings they are having don’t seem to address this issue or things that were important to the officers.  He said there has been a little bit of research in their department that showed that job satisfaction was in the low 20 percentiles and that was a major issue.  It was heart wrenching to have a guy say that 80 percent of his department isn’t crazy about their job anymore, a job many of them probably dreamed of taking.  He asked me how do I get a training on something that really mattered to his officers doing the job.

I personally have seen low morale across the country lately and want to spend a couple of paragraphs to address this issue. (more…)

Share this Article: