Archive for the ‘Other Tools’ Category

Police Psychology | “BRING A BUDDY”

By: Marla Friedman, Psy.D. PC
Police Psychologist
Executive Board-Badge of Life

For years I have been training First Responders on the importance of seeking and maintaining good mental health. As you can imagine I’ve come up against a lot of resistance. Fighting the stigma related to pursuing good mental health is an ongoing battle. I do believe my peers and I have made some positive inroads in this area. However there is still a lot of work to be done.

An interesting experience happened recently that made me think I may have found another technique that may make it easier for officers to come for their Mental Health Check-In (O’Hara, 2006) or for psychotherapy when indicated. (more…)

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Police Psychology | What the Heck is “Insulin Resistance”?

by Doug Gentz, Ph.D. – Psychological Services

  1. A specific form of Receptor Site Resistance
  2. The condition that immediately precedes a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes
  3. A condition that used to show up mostly in old people and is now appearing in teenagers
  4. A condition, which like most addictions, causes the development of a higher and higher “tolerance” for a given substance – in this case a person’s own insulin.
  5. All of the above

Every cell in a person’s body requires two things: Police psychology, Insulin Resistance?Glucose which is the fuel and O2, which is required to burn it. O2 gets to each cell via red blood cells, glucose gets inside each cell only with an insulin escort. The insulin molecules are provided by the pancreas which is signaled to release insulin into the bloodstream any time there is the slightest rise in the blood glucose (sugar) level (above approximately 100 mg per deciliter of blood). The insulin molecules “unlock” the portal thru which the glucose enters the cell by engaging special insulin receptor sites on the cell wall.  (more…)

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Viewpoint of an Atheist

by Julie Derby Jaecksch

Hello, my name is Julie and I am an atheist. I do not often discuss being an atheist with people that I do not know or even people that I do know because many people have an immediate & significant negative reaction.

American Atheist logo

American Atheist logo

I am grateful for the opportunity to express myself in this blog entry alongside other people discussing their beliefs. First and foremost, I respect & support every person’s choice of their belief system without judging or criticizing. I am not speaking for all atheists which according to recent surveys is a growing segment of American society. While I know quite a few first responders who are atheists, I am writing only from my personal beliefs and experiences.

I was a dispatcher for a county police department 1983-1990. I processed all types of crime scenes including murders, unexplained deaths, officer-involved shootings, sexual assaults, assaults with deadly weapons & burglaries in a large and violent city 1990-2015. During my 25 years of working crime scenes, “my” department experienced multiple line-of-duty-deaths and several suicides as well as accusations of criminal wrongdoing, violent demonstrations, organizational & personal scandals, multi-million dollar lawsuits and intense media coverage of the some of these events.

I was raised without religious education or participation of any kind having only minimal exposure following Saturday night sleep-overs with my Grandma or with friends who went to church. I have never taken a class in religion or read the Bible.

My parents, family members, responsible adults & teachers taught me: right from wrong; how to take responsibility for myself; that helping others is part of being a good citizen; how to treat and care about people as I would want them to treat and care about me; and that treating people with compassion, honesty and fairness is the right thing to do.

I read a lot as a child including classic stories with moral lessons, descriptions of how responsible adults lived their lives and the consequences that people suffered who did not follow the rules. My family discussed newspaper stories and local TV news stories that included examples of behavior to emulate and behavior to avoid.

I am a very logical thinker. Believing in God and statements like “God only gives you what you can handle” and “Trust in God that He will provide for you” do not make logical sense to me. I have been overwhelmed with grief that felt like more than I could handle but I knew that it was temporary and I did not expect anyone else to help me handle it but I was grateful that I could depend on my friends to comfort me and listen to me during my grief journey. I was taught from a young age that I would need to become educated and work hard in order to support myself and that I should not count on being able to rely on my parents or others to provide for me, that in most cases I should be self-reliant.

I was having an open, honest & calm conversation with a friend of mine who became religious as an adult about our differing beliefs. He asked me as an atheist what motivates me to be a good person without the promise of being rewarded in the afterlife/next life. I love this question because it made me think back to how my parents communicated with me about the need for me to be a good person, a considerate family member, a productive employee & a responsible citizen.

The word faith may have had its origin in religious teachings, I do not know. I use the word faith without the religious connotation as a synonym for confidence such as “I have faith in myself that I will be able to be a good person” or “I have faith that my work as a crime scene investigator will be of service & value to the victim and to the community”.

I processed over 500 death scenes during my career including several with multiple victims, innocent victims and victims that were very young or very old. I believe that a person who dies, lives on in the hearts, minds & memories of the people who loved them and that they “live on” in the conversations of family and friends but not in another dimension or life beyond Earth.

I know that when someone says that the deceased person is “in a better place” that they are trying to be comforting and I am glad that their beliefs comfort them. I do not believe in an afterlife of any kind so that sounds hollow to me but I accept the thoughts & the love behind the words. I believe when a person has died – whether it was a violent death or a natural death – that they are no longer in any pain. I believe that their soul, spirit, essence or whatever word people choose to call the “heart” of the person that made them the individual that they were has ceased to exist and the physical body is all that remains. I witnessed the death of many people at work and I was with my beloved husband when he took his last breath. I treated every deceased human being with respect and with great care while processing the death scene whether it was a sidewalk in a crime-ridden neighborhood or a bedroom in a beautiful home.

In addition to dealing with much death at work, I have lost many people that I love – please notice that I used the present tense instead of saying loved which is past tense – including both of my parents, my beloved aunt & uncle, my husband, my older brother, friends & co-workers. I do not believe that their deaths were decided by God or that they are “living” in Heaven or enjoying some type of afterlife. I do not understand how I would be consoled while grieving by a belief in God. I believe that I carry my loved ones with me in my memories and in my heart & that they “live on” when people who loved them talk about them & remember them. I do not believe in an afterlife of any kind which leads me to cherish this life on Earth and to be grateful every day. There are no guarantees of a long, trouble-free life. No one knows how long their life will be. It is clear to me, that life can be both easy & difficult and that bad things sometimes happen to good people without explanation.

When I hear someone say that what happens – a murder, a tornado, a winning lottery ticket – is “God’s will” I do not understand that belief. If people believe in a benevolent God or higher power of some kind, how do they explain wars, incurable cancer, the random murder of a toddler, terrorism, the extinction of animal species or a tsunami killing thousands of people? Why would God choose to make these things happen? I believe that the vast majority of people are good people or that they are trying to be good people. I also believe that some people: treat other people unfairly or take advantage of them; are simply evil; are without empathy for themselves or others; are sociopaths or psychopaths. It is truly unfortunate that some people become physically ill or mentally ill but I do not believe that this happens because of “God’s will.”

A friend of mine who is a therapist who sees first responders once mentioned to me that she thinks that I am a very spiritual person. I did not think that the word spiritual applied to me because I thought at the time that it was always used as a religious word and I asked her to explain what she meant by that word. Her definition of spiritual is a person who spends time being of service to other people without any expectation of personal gain. She knows that I spend time volunteering with first responder organizations including educating first responders on how to become more resilient and how to manage their stress. I appreciate her describing me as spiritual using her definition. I now realize that spiritual and religious are not synonyms and I hear more people describing themselves as spiritual.

People who choose to become first responders – or are “called” to the professions, some people think that the person does not choose the job as much as the job chooses the person – are rule followers by nature. The belief system that each first responder embraces, will guide them through the performance of their job duties as well as their personal life.

My sincere hope is that each person – first responder or not – will listen to people who have different beliefs without judgment or criticism. I hope that people will accept that believing in God and an afterlife are not mandatory to living a moral, law-abiding life of service to others. Thank you for reading with an open mind.


Blog Administrator: Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.

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 Anne Bisek sent me this article and said she wasn’t sure if I could use it or not.  I have lectured around the world in police psychology and always added spirituality as part of the psychology needed to be healthy as police officers.  I decided we needed more than one article and approached Anne with the concept of a series on Spirituality in Law Enforcement.  I hope you enjoy a little of Anne’s research in this article.  — Gary

Is There More Than Just “Thou Shalt Not Kill”?


The Bible has many passages which are related to police work. The sixth commandment gets a lot of press, but here are five additional verses you may not hear very often.

Did you know Jesus ordered someone to drop his weapon?bible, Police Psychology What does the Bible say about a suspect who does not listen to the authorities and resists arrest? From foot pursuits to officer safety, the Bible has much to say to law enforcement officers.

Please consider the following scripture passages.

On neutralizing the threat.

Matthew 26:52

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him. “All who can take the sword will die by the sword.

On resisting arrest

Romans 13:1-4, 6

Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment on himself. For rulers are not to be feared by those who do good, but by those who do evil… That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties.

On foot pursuits or car chases

Proverbs 28:1

The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

On officer safety: wear your vest and your belt!


 Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power.  Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks.  For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.

 So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One.  And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.  Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.

God the ultimate back up partner!

PSALM 91:1-16

Whoever goes to the Lord for safety,
 whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him,
 “ You are my defender and protector.
 You are my God; in you I trust.”

 He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers
 and from all deadly diseases. He will cover you with his wings;
 you will be safe in his care;
 his faithfulness will protect and defend you. You need not fear any dangers at night
 or sudden attacks during the day or the plagues that strike in the dark
 or the evils that kill in daylight. A thousand may fall dead beside you,
 ten thousand all around you,
 but you will not be harmed.

You will look and see
 how the wicked are punished.

You have made the Lord your defender,
 the Most High your protector,

and so no disaster will strike you,
 no violence will come near your home.

God will put his angels in charge of you
 to protect you wherever you go.

They will hold you up with their hands
 to keep you from hurting your feet on the stones. You will trample down lions and snakes,
 fierce lions and poisonous snakes.

God says, “I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as Lord. When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them and honor them. I will reward them with long life; I will save them.”

Some officers involved in a shooting have good reasons to struggle with the scripture passage, “thou shalt not kill.” Indeed, that is an important passage, but it is not the first or final word in the topic. The Bible differentiates murder, manslaughter, premeditation and accidents.

Please consider the following scripture passages.

 Matthew 19:18

Jesus answered, “Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely”

EXODUS 20:1, 20:13

God spoke, and these were his words…”     “Do not commit murder.”

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are seven things that the Lord hates and cannot tolerate: A proud look, lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, a mind that thinks up wicked plans, feet that hurry off to do evil, a witness who tells one lie after another, and a man who stirs up trouble among friends.

On murder versus manslaughter

NUMBERS 35:20-25

“If you hate someone and kill him by pushing him down or by throwing something at him or by striking him with your fist, you are guilty of murder and are to be put to death.”

“But suppose you accidentally kill someone you do not hate, whether by pushing him down or by throwing something at him. Or suppose that, without looking, you throw a stone that kills someone whom you did not intend to hurt and who was not your enemy.  In such cases the community shall judge in your favor and not in favor of the dead person’s relative who is seeking revenge.  You are guilty only of manslaughter, and the community is to rescue you from the dead person’s relative, and they are to return you to the city of refuge to which you had escaped.

On accidental discharges


If you accidentally kill someone who is not your enemy, you may escape to any of these cities and be safe. For example, if two of you go into the forest together to cut wood and if, as one of you is chopping down a tree, the ax head comes off the handle and kills the other, you can run to one of those three cities and be safe….After all, it was by accident that you killed someone who was not your enemy.

On use of force

ROMANS 13: 4-5

Would you like to be unafraid of the man in authority? Then do what is good, and he will praise you, because he is God’s servant working for your own good. But if you do evil, then be afraid of him, because his power to punish is real. He is God’s servant and carries our God’s punishment on those who do evil. For this reason, you must obey the authorities – not just because God’s punishment, but also as a matter of conscious.

On line of duty death

John 15:13

The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them.


Compiled by Dr. Anne Bisek,

December 2015

Blog Administrator: Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.

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In New York, as I am sure in many major cities, it is common to find many members of the departments who are Jewish.  But isn’t their faith antithetical to police work?  My conservative Jewish Intern will explain.  As we are traveling through the Hanukkah season we must not forget the members of the Jewish faith in Blue.  — Gary and Anne

An Officer and Jewish


Today, we have reached a point in time where discrimination is not only discouraged—it is illegal. This is with regards to gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. Despite this, there are Star of David, Police Psychologymany things to consider within a religious group. In this post, I would like to discuss with you some considerations that must be evaluated for Jews who want to join the police force.

The Chumash (one of the sections of the Jewish bible) requires that Jews establish a police force. Indeed, a robust police force is a required feature of all Jewish communities. At the same time, the bible makes it very clear that police officers are enforcers, not executors of justice, or punishers. The role of police officers is to find and prevent criminal activities. Their responsibilities do not include exacting retribution against those they feel are deserving. This is an important distinction that is emphasized many times in the bible—and it is a distinction that bears emphasizing here. Studies show that there are three main levels of police force: legal, extra-legal, and excessive. Most notably, many cops maintain that extra-legal force (while not within the technical confines of the law) is allowed and necessary depending on the situation and other abstract factors. In other words, many times cops see themselves as the executors of justice, while, in fact, their role is really meant to be enforcers of justice.

And yet, despite the requirement to establish a strong police force in every community, historically, the Jews have had a distrust for the civil authority. This often led to a disinterest in joining secular police forces. For instance, it is recorded that one Jewish man was a detective and investigator for the Roman police force, and his friends all told him this brought about “divine displeasure.” The story ends there, but many Rabbis explain the reasoning here. In these ancient time periods, the secular government was oftentimes unfair and unjust. People did not receive fair trails, and punishments were regularly inhumane and excessive. For this reason, this man’s friends frowned upon the practice of ratting our Jewish criminals to the Roman authority. This, however, was the case in that particular circumstance. Today, joining secular police forces are seen as a respectable profession in the Jewish community. Why? Because the laws and consequences in this country are executed fairly, equal treatment for all. In such a case, the bible permits reporting on other Jews, even if they are alleged violators.

In fact, in some cases it is even encouraged to join the police force! One concern many people address is the idea that the bible encourages us to lead lifestyles of refinement and poise. The concern here is that being exposed to a life of violence and authority that invariably comes hand in hand with police work may be incompatible with the personality and the psyche that God encourages us to pursue. But, many Rabbis explain that this is not a valid concern. Indeed, it is recorded in many books that everyone has different personalities and inclinations for different professions. The bible says there are those people who are predisposed toward violence and blood. Instead of trying to counter their very nature, we should encourage them to pursue positive professions that are align with their personalities. For instance, such an individual should become a butcher and sell animal meat. In psychological terms, this is called sublimation, a Freudian defense mechanism. Sublimation is a mature defense mechanism where socially unacceptable behaviors (such as murder and violence) are unconsciously transformed into socially acceptable behaviors (such as become a butcher). Eventually, this can lead to a permanent alteration of the initial inappropriate impulse.

Police work is just like this. The bible does not want to discourage people who have a penchant for control, authority, even violence and toughness. Instead, it wants to nurture it and find positive outlets for such behaviors. Becoming enforcers of the law—particularly in developed countries in which we can rely on the fact that the laws will be just and equal—is one such way to do so.

Reports from Jewish police officers also show that “Jewish cops often feel in their work a sense of moral mission that is intertwined with their Judaism.” In other words, many cops (Jewish and otherwise) are motivated by their faith. This moral framework can help Jews navigate the more unpleasant realities of police work. Many Jews encourage a lifestyle of “tikun olam”—making the world a better place. Working with law enforcement gives these Jewish individuals a sense that they are working toward a greater goal, one of betterment for our society.

Today, there are about 3,000 Jews in the NYPD. While this is a small percentage, it should also be noted that many Jews volunteer for citizen watch programs (called “shomrim” in the Jewish communities). In addition, Jews have a long-standing history with law enforcement in America. Historical records show that a Polish Jew living in the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam in the 1600s demanded that the governor allow him to take up arms alongside the other colonists in order to protect his home.

Perhaps Jews will always feel a sense of being an “outsider,” especially when it comes to being a police officer. And perhaps Jews will always look at authority figures with a sense of trepidation (considering what happened with the Holocaust, this may even be a valid concern). But the fact that Jews are becoming increasingly involved with local police forces is definitely a step forward in the right direction.

Yocheved Pahmer
Police Psychology Intern


Blog Administrator: Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.

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