(National Geographic photo)

“Do officers deserve sound mental health?”, I asked and received a long string of variations on ‘Yes’.
Then stop eating your own.
Stop it.
Many years ago, a family friend was beaten nearly to death with his own baton, and then dragged into the road to be run over. The suspect finally left when the officer fumbled unsuccessfully with his holster.
The case went to trial, and the suspect looked sharp in his suit. Our friend was still recovering from emotional trauma and a profound TBI. He was unshaven, and he stammered and wept during his testimony. It was brutal to watch. The suspect was convicted anyway, and the officer was never able to return to work.
A little while ago I read a comment *from* a cop on a law enforcement page about uncontrollable emotion during testimony about officers attacked and injured during a chaotic and violent crime scene that went on for hours. He said, “I haven’t seen so many grown men cry since a can of OC malfunctioned during briefing”, and he laughed.
Today I read a comment on another police page directed toward the surviving widow of an officer who died by suicide:
There’s a term for that: it’s called ‘sanctuary trauma’, and it wrecks otherwise sound first responders. Sanctuary trauma isn’t the bad thing– it’s what happens *after* the bad thing, when you get back to where it’s supposed to be safe, and it isn’t.
If you’d take a bullet for another officer, can’t you please for God’s sake give each other some grace when when their brains and their hearts hurt, as well as their bodies?
An abnormal reaction to an abnormal thing is NORMAL. Tears may be hurt, or sadness, exhaustion or fear. They may also be anger, and betrayal, and overload.
If we truly believe cops deserve mental wellness, then stand in the gap for the ones who can’t right now and defend them, even if you don’t know them, and even if you weren’t there. It’s bad enough to take garbage from administration or command staff, without it coming from the line as well.
Stop killing your wounded.
Stop eating your own.
Stop the stigma