by James “Jimmy” Thomas
Police Officer, Shift Supervisor
Ontario, Canada Provincial Police
**very sensitive material for some readers**
As police officers, we are hired for our Type A personalities. Within the sub-culture, we can quickly believe that we are “invincible” and don’t dare show vulnerability or mental illness. Canadian statistics show that 1 in 5 of us will suffer from a mental illness in our lifetime.
Officer James Thomas
My story isn’t very different from many others in emergency services. Anyone working in the fire, medical, or policing professions will see some horrific sights in their careers. Over time, some may become affected by the jobs that they are entrusted and expected to perform. That doesn’t make them weak or less than anyone else. It makes them human and for reasons yet to be clearly proven; some will become afflicted with an Operational Stress Injury. This is my story and a plea to never allow false pride to keep you from reaching out for help if you need it.
I come from a family of police officers. My father was a police officer in Montreal and my uncle retired as a deputy chief. My brother was a police officer in Belleville. I have been around policing most of my life. I am all too familiar with the “suck it up, buttercup” attitude toward horrible scenes encountered. Continue reading
by Rick Neeley
Officer Rick Neeley
In 2006, my best friend and fellow police officer committed suicide while he was on the phone with me. I viewed the in-car camera footage of him shooting himself which lead to the onset of PTSD.
I lasted on the department another six months, and have struggled through PTSD which has led me on a path of suicidal thoughts, hospitalization, separation from my wife for a year and many struggles and battles on the road through the valley of the shadow of PTSD. Continue reading
Author’s Note: I would like to thank this brave officer and their spouse for sharing this article. I know it was not easy for them to lay out their lives as they did. If they can help one officer or first responder get help, the mission was accomplished. I encourage all who read this article to please share it with an officer or other first responder you may know. You may be saving a life.
I can’t un-see what I have seen
Ever since I was a little child, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a police officer. My parents would listen to my tale over and over again. After graduating from college, I accepted a position as a Director of Finance. My parents questioned me about my career choice knowing finance was not what I aspired to do. At 22, I knew this wasn’t going to be my permanent career as most people who just graduate take a transition job until the right one comes along.
Fast forward 10 years and I thought it was time to live the life I was meant to live…..to finally achieve my dream of being a police officer. I worked in a busy police department and eventually made rank. Continue reading
by Peggy Sweeney
Author’s Note: Several years ago, a detective from a metropolitan police department sent me an email concerning the death of his 17-year-old daughter. She had been brutally murdered by her boyfriend and the anniversary of her death was fast approaching. Vince was struggling with several grief issues, one of which was his perception that as a police officer he was unable to protect her and save her life.
With his permission, I am sharing my response to his email in the hopes that it will help other bereaved dads, especially those of you in law enforcement and emergency response, who may be coping with some of the same issues. Continue reading
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