Emotional Survival in Law Enforcement

I benefit from working for a department that puts a value on training. All too often what suffers as a result of the budget getting whacked is training. Good training is what saves lives- cop’s lives and the public’s lives. Recently I went to a training hosted by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin. He has written one of the most recognizable books in law enforcement called Emotional Survival for Law EnforcementOne of the men I work with hates reading, yet read this book from one end to the other and said that it described him perfectly.

Unfortunately that is not a good because what Gilmartin describes are the kind of cops who burn out and emotionally die. Here are some of the points he made in his class I attended.

  • One out of three kids of cops get diabetes and die by the age of 42.
  • Cops are at an elevated risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Cops start idealistic and energetic but often retire ticked off and angry.
  • The average American lives to be 74-76. The average for a cop is 66.
  • All too often the side affects of getting good at law enforcement are corrosive.
  • Cops are abnormal because they don’t have the luxury of thinking normally. They think about what could happen, not what will probably happen.
  • Cops deal with human behavior at its baddest, saddest and maddest.
  • While 52 cops were feloniously killed in 2009, 484 killed themselves.
  • Every 18 hours a cop kills himself which is double the rate for the rest of the nation.
  • Eighty-three percent of cops get two hours fewer sleep than the rest of the public.
  • Law enforcement is an isolated, singular experience.
  • A cop that has been on the job ten years exercises half the time, attends church half the time, and watches television a third more of the time as when he first started his career.
  • The average cop watches 4 hours of television a day.

Dr. Gilmartin speaks to ways in which cops can break out of these destructive cycles. While that may be a temporal relief to some of these symptoms, I think the real solution for the root problem is the gospel. Only the gospel can help a cop deal with the baddest people of society and feel a sorrow for the condition of their heart. Only the gospel can heal a cynical heart that is medicated off duty by hours of television and other mind-numbing distractions. Only the gospel can help a cop bear the sword and turn the other cheek.


About justicetheline

Above all I am a Christian Hedonist pursuing my ultimate satisfaction and joy in God. This blog contains postings about what God is teaching me through his Word, is an outlet for some of my photography, and will occasionally include stories about my experiences as a deputy sheriff on patrol. View all posts by justicetheline

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