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 Enforcement. One 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.