Photo via Stephen Poff/Flickr.

Photo via Stephen Poff/Flickr.

In your law enforcement career, there will be times when your stress level causes too much friction or locks up your forward motion. I usually don't give psychological counseling, but listen to some sage advice from a chief who knows.

When the stress boils over, there are paths recommended by the agency. You may speak with your departmental chaplain. You may make an appointment with your employee assistance programs (EAP) or peer counselors. These pathways exist for your sake as well as for the well-being of your family and co-workers. Fully understand your rights and privileges within these programs.

There are those who don't want to reach out for help within organized, formal programs. Understood. Maybe you'd rather speak to your own spiritual counselor? Or maybe you just need a good conversation with a trusted confidante to recharge your batteries.

More and more officers are becoming victims of a level of stress that, if not attended to, could turn them into the psychologically walking wounded. They know they need to reach out to someone. Fear holds them back. It's not a signal of weakness to reach out. It's not a career ender; they aren't coming to cart you away. We want to clear you up and get you back in the mix.

When I notice stress taking a stronger hold of an officer, I'm obligated to offer formal remedies. If rejected, I then ask whether they have a trusted confidante. These are people who know you well. When you speak with them, their counsel makes the world a better place. Your brain functions like any finely-tuned machine. Sometimes your psyche needs that oil change.

It's important to have these helping folks identified and within reach of a phone call, when you or they need it. The relationship is often a two-way street. Sometimes, you're a helper to them. Call this a battle buddy if you like. I've been fortunate to have had a few of these people. When I talk with them, I feel better.

I usually call an old colleague who knows me well enough to hear me and can tell me what I need to hear, rather than what I may want to hear. Not in a condescending way, just listening and giving me the direction I need. These are the valuable friends who make it easier to maneuver through life. Reach out and keep the lines open. Don't wait until it's too late or too all-encompassing. Do yourself a favor today. Give your contact a call and get a good handle on the day. You won't regret it.

Author

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

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William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

View Bio
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