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Tag: police suicide

Law Enforcement 3

Slaying The Stigma

Adversity

I just want to be real with you.  I understand why cops are killing themselves.  I understand because I have been all the way to the end of that dark, desolate road.  The only difference, the only saving grace, the only thing that saved me in that moment—was a fellow officer who gave me a mission of hope.

The voices whispered into my thoughts, “just end it all…this life…there’s no point..there is no hope…with all the darkness you have seen…with the wretch of a person you have become..there is no hope for you.

Lies.  But I almost believed them.  And in that moment, I received a sneak preview of Hell itself.  Though I had begun to refuse to acknowledge the existence of a higher power, in my heart I still clung to a belief in a Creator..and Heaven…and Hell.

A grizzly, gruff Lieutenant in my department recognized my despair and heard my plea for help one day.  I was in the midst of an internal investigation and I was convinced my career was over, my wife would leave me, and my daughter would be taken from me.

Drowning in alcohol abuse, depression, rage, and darkness, I could see no hope—no way out.  I asked my Lieutenant, “How am I supposed to deal with this? I don’t know what to do.”  I was cautious not to let him see how much I was hurting inside—that I was crying out for help.  I didn’t want him to know the true pain in my heart, for I was so ashamed that I wasn’t tough like him.

Before I knew it, my Lieutenant had made a call to our department’s police psychologist and had given my name and number over to the “Cop Doc.”  Now, I felt like I had a directive from my leader—Go get help. 

Soon, I found made my first appointment with the Cop Doc.  I found myself sitting in a rickety chair in a small office in an old townhouse that had been converted for commercial use.  The soft noise from a noise making machine drowned any conversation in the tiny office from leaking through the paper thin hollow door.  Through heavy tears, I poured out my soul to this man who was supposed to be the enemy…this supposed “quack;” the police psychologist.

The Cop Doc let me finish, he listened and he acknowledged my pain.  He did not try to minimize it, and he did not brush it off or tell me to “tough it out, suck it up.”  The Cop Doc was the perfect balance of reality, compassion, and understanding.  He walked with me through the darkness and he pulled me out of the bottom of the deepest, darkest pit I have ever been in.  Slowly, I put my armor back on.

In the weeks that followed, the Cop Doc allowed me to text him directly and treated me as a friend and not a patient.  He never wrote anything down and he assured me that all we discussed was completely confidential.   He was my only friend at a time when I had none.

Soon afterwards, I began attending church and committed my life to God.  But I kept going to see the Cop Doc; I knew he could help me.  For the first time in so, so long, I felt hope.  To this day, I still have a relationship with my Cop Doc, and I am thankful for his friendship and for the simple fact that he will always stand by my side.

Today, I am a survivor.  My life is back on track, and I’m still a cop.  I love my job and I love helping people and making a difference every day.  I still face the darkness and the impossibilities of this job, but the new light shining from within me will never be extinguished.  My fellow brothers and sisters, we MUST DESTROY the STIGMA.  We are NOT weak if we ask for help.  We are all human and we are all broken.

Your badge is a shield, but it will not shield you from the trauma and the darkness we face.  We must seek help when we are hurting, and we must surround ourselves with a support network that will always uplift us and extend a lifeline of hope when we find ourselves in troubled waters.  Seeking help is the only weapon we have against the enemy of suicide.

Read the powerful true story of how my life was changed forever in my award winning book, Break Every Chain: A Police Officer’s Battle with Alcoholism, Depression, and Devastating Loss, and the True Story of How God Changed His Life Forever.  Available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Books-A-Million, Walmart, Ebay, and iTunes.  For more information, visit https://JonathanHickory.com

Jonathan Hickory is a Master Police Officer in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his 15 plus years of police experience, Jonathan has mentored and instructed other officers in police driving methods and as a Field Training Officer. Jonathan spent seven years investigating the reconstruction of fatal vehicle crash sites and three years as a motorcycle officer. Jonathan proudly serves as a member of the Police Department’s Peer Support Team providing Critical Incident Stress Management support to fellow officers. He also leads a Life Safety team with The Point Church in Charlottesville and the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers. Jonathan has been married to his wife Stacy for over 14 years and has two children.

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Law Enforcement 0

Mercer County Officer Takes Own Life While At Work

Pablo-Santiago-2.jpg
Mercer County Sheriff’s Officer Pablo Santiago (via Facebook)

Trenton, New Jersey – A Mercer County Sherriff’s Officer Pablo Santiago took his own life while at work on Wednesday.

By looking at his photo taken just weeks ago, you would never guess this was coming. His coworkers, as expected, are all reported to be extremely surpised and upset by this news. It just goes to show that you never know what someone is going through, no matter how happy they appear.

Suicide. It seems to be a problem that has reached epidemic levels in law enforcement these days. All too often news of officers taking their own lives comes across your news feed. It is starting to garner more attention. A recent news article from Austin, Texas discussed how a Police Chief has seen so many avoidable firings and dicipline as a result of alocohol abuse and other stress related factors that come with being in law enforcement. They are taking steps to battle the issue before it becomes a problem. Kudos to Austin Police Department.

The statistics aren’t easy to come by, as there isn’t an “official” database that police related suicides must be reported to and tracked. As of December 19th, there were 14 police suicides confirmed, it is likely there have been more. At the very least this tragedy makes 15 and that’s 15 too many.

A GoFundMe account was started on Thursday morning to help Santiago’s family.

“Anyone who met Pablo knew him to always have a contagious smile, a beautiful spirit, and a kind (and many times silly) word,” the GoFundMe campaign page said. “Not only was he a respected pillar of the Mercer County community, and the President of PBA Local 187, but also a sheriff’s officer dedicated to his job beyond words, and above all else and most importantly, a devoted friend, husband and father.”

The GoFundMe campaign continued, “With his sudden passing, Pablo leaves behind a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.  Although nothing can replace his presence in this world, we are hoping to alleviate some of the financial burdens on his family following the tragedy.”

The fundraiser has reached $5,345 out of a goal of $20,000 in four hours at the time of this article.

The Officer Next Door extends its deepest condolences to the Santiago family and his brothers and sisters of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.

 

Law Enforcement 1

Cincinnati Police Sergeant Found Dead By Fellow Officers

Cincinnati Police
Photo source: Youtube

Cincinnati OH –

Per a recent press release, the Cincinnati Police Department announced they located a deceased Cincinnati police officer at 2084 Eden Park Drive just after noon today. A death investigation is being conducted in conjunction with Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.

In the press release, Chief Eliot Issac announced that the officer has been identified as Sergeant Arthur T. Shultz, who was a 28 year veteran and a very well-respected member of the Cincinnati Police Department.

We here at The Officer Next Door extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Cincinnati Police Department and their blue family.

Unfortunately, this December has proven to be like many in the past. Suicides and violence toward police officers generally increase during the holiday season.

If ruled a suicide, Sergeant Shultz’ death would be the 15th reported law enforcement suicide in the month of December according to www.wearebluehelp.org which reported 14 suicides as of December 19th.

We want to encourage all first responders to watch after each other during this holiday season. Please reach out if you are in need of help and be safe.

News 1

Florida Deputy Kills His Family, Commits Suicide In Front Of Responding Deputies

Hillsborough County Sheriff car
Photo Source: Fox 13 News

Breaking news coming from Hillsborough County Florida.

Reports coming in are saying that an unidentified Florida Deputy has killed three others and then drove to a high school in Plant City, Florida and where he committed suicide as officers confronted him.

During a news conference this morning, Sheriff Chad Chronister confirmed that a woman and child were killed at one residence, another woman was killed at a separate crime scene, and the deputy took his own life when confronted by three deputies near the Plant City High School grounds.  No students were at the school when this incident occurred.

Sheriff Chronister further stated that the deputy got on the police radio channel and stated that he had “caused harm to his family” as well as stating his plan to commit suicide at the nearby high school. A supervisor got on the radio and attempted to talk to the deputy to no avail. During the radio transmissions the deputy mentioned financial and health issues but further motives and details have not been released at this time.

Sadly, this is the second murder-suicide to take place involving a Hillsborough deputy this year.

Suicide in the law enforcement profession has been on the rise and has reached epidemic levels. More on this topic to come.

– The Officer Next Door

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