Archive for the ‘Police Procedure’ Category
Suicide is generally not a popular topic among law enforcement professionals. In fact, to take one’s own life is often thought of as an act that’s beneath the dignity of the badge. Likewise, conditions that are frequently precursors to an officer’s suicide—depression, PTSD, etc.—are also often considered demeaning, and as a sign of weakness.
In the past, it was rare for a police department to recognize that officer suicide could actually be work-related. Instead, blame for the troubles were most often placed squarely on the officer, with the department citing possible marriage troubles, other family issues, financial difficulties, etc., as the reason(s) for the suicide.
Fortunately, some law enforcement administrators have begun to acknowledge the very real correlation between PTSD and suicide, and they have suicide prevention programs in place. Still, it is important that officers recognize the warning signs and seek help. It is also equally as important that fellow officers and supervisors act proactively when they see a coworker exhibiting the warning signs associated with PTSD and/or potential suicide.
Unfortunately, the “sweep the problem under the rug and hope it goes away” mentality still exists in many law enforcement agencies across the country. Hopefully, they’ll all soon come to realize that good mental health is as equally important as an officer’s ability to run a mile and earn a passing score on the firing range.
Mike Bond, a career law enforcement professional and assistant professor of criminal justice, compiled the following data for a recent article.
- 2008 police suicides: 141
- 2009 police suicides: 143
- 2012 police suicides: 126
Police suicides in the study:
- The average age of officers in 2012 was 42 at time of suicide
- The average time on job as a police officer at the time of suicide was 16 years of service
- 91 percent of suicides were by male officers
- The age in which police officers were most at risk was 40 to 44
- The time on the job when police officers are most at risk was 15 to 19 years of service
- 63 percent of police suicide victims were single
- 11 percent of police suicide victims were military veterans
- Firearms were used in 91.5 percent of police suicides
- 83 percent of the police officers had personal problems prior to the suicide
- 11 percent of the police officers committing suicide had legal problems pending
- California and New York had the highest reported police suicides
Some warning signs of police officer suicidal tendencies are:
- is talking about suicide or death, and even glorifying death.
- is giving direct verbal cues, such as “I wish I were dead,” and “I am going to end it all.”
- is giving less direct verbal cues, such as “What’s the point of living?”, “Soon you won’t have to worry about me” and “Who cares if I’m dead, anyway?”
- is now self-isolating from friends and family.
- is expressing the belief that life is meaningless or hopeless.
- starts giving away cherished possessions.
- is exhibiting a sudden and unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed or withdrawn. This is a dangerous sign because the officer has come to terms with his/her own death and is relieved the end is near.
- is neglecting his or her appearance and hygiene.
- is annoyed that he/she is going to do something that will ruin his/her career, but doesn’t care.
- is openly discussing that he/she feels out of control.
- displays behavior changes that include appearing hostile, blaming, argumentative and insubordinate or appear passive, defeated and hopeless.
- develops a morbid interest in suicide or homicide.
- indicates that he/she is feeling overwhelmed and cannot find solutions to his/her problems.
- is asking another officer to keep his/her weapon.
- is out of character by inappropriately use or displaying a weapon unnecessarily.
- exhibits reckless behavior; taking unnecessary risks on the job and/or in his/her personal life. The officer acting like – he/she has a death wish.
- is carrying weapons in a reckless unsafe manner.
- exhibits deteriorating job performance.
- has recent issues with alcohol and/or drugs.
”Preventing police suicide is every officer’s responsibility and obligation as a member of the law enforcement profession. Having the leadership and courage to change a culture of silence does not weaken the profession but strengthens the bonds that make it noble and honorable profession that protects the weak and innocent from harm.
The ethical warrior leads by example and supports others when they are down, and that includes their own.” ~ Mike Bond
*Resourse – NSA/MultiBriefs/Mike Bond
Officer Smiley Face is on foot patrol in the lower east side of Deathtrap, Texas, where the rowdiest of all bars are located. The area there is well known for its drug traffic and gang activity, and there’d been a number of assaults on police officers in recent weeks. So Officer S. Face is already on high alert when he passes a suspicious young man hanging out at the corner of Kick and My Butt. The two exchange eye contact and, after mumbling a few words to himself, the guy falls in step behind the officer.
Sensing danger, Officer Face moves to the side of the walkway and turns his back to the brick storefront of Slim’s House of Pawn and Porn. The man stops in front of him and, without warning, he jumps the officer, delivering numerous punches and kicks to the officer’s head and body.
Is Officer Smiley Face expected, by law, to fight a fair fight? Must he stand there and exchange punches and kicks with the thug until the best fighter is left standing? Of course not. Police officers are expected to win every single encounter. They should never lose a battle. Not ever. Their goal is to arrest all suspects and bring them in to stand trial.
But, suppose the attacker is bigger and stronger? What if there’s more than one attacker? If he’s a better fighter? What then?
Well, all of the above are the reasons officers operate under the “1-Plus Rule of Thumb,” which simply means that officers, under normal circumstances, are allowed to use one level of force above the amount of force used by the suspect/attacker/adversary.
What about an encounter such as the one Officer Smiley was faced with in the paragraphs above? The man was unarmed and he began his attack at close range. What is Officer Face allowed to do to defend himself?
Well, if the officer feels that his life is in danger he is permitted to use deadly force. But in Face’s case he probably wouldn’t have the time or opportunity to reach one of the weapons on his duty belt. Not at first, anyway.
So here are some options officers may want to consider when faced with deadly force encounters while empty handed. The same tactics could be used by citizens to defend themselves against an attack.
Eye Gouge – Use your palms to guide the thumbs to the eyes, and always use the thumbs when applying this technique. Never a finger. Thumbs are capable of delivering more force than fingers. Besides, fingers break easily as opposed to the sturdier thumbs. But you can use the fingers to grip the head, which helps to provide even more force from the thumbs. A properly applied eye gouge almost always results in the suspect releasing his grip on you.
Knee Strike – A knee strike to the groin, gut, or the large muscle of the thigh, can be a devastating blow. A huge amount of force is generated by this technique, and that force translates into lots of pain for your attacker.
The Head Twist – This one’s a little tricky because you could actually kill your suspect if you’re not careful. BUT, if the officer is fighting for her life, then so be it.
Kick To The Knee – It’s very easy to break a knee, therefore a good kick to it can put your attacker out of commission in a hurry. After all, it’s tough to fight while standing on one leg. It’s also difficult to escape custody with a broken knee. Not many suspects are able to successfully hop to freedom.
Palm-Heel Strike To The Ear – This one is quite painful. Makes ‘em see stars and bright white lights. It could also make them release the choke hold they have on you.
Remember, these are NOT the techniques police use to control suspects—arm bars, wrist locks, and come-alongs. These are empty-hand tactics and techniques used when fighting for survival. Officers should ONLY use the amount of force necessary to control a suspect/situation.