Police Officers are eight times more likely
to die by their own hand than by homicide, a
study by University of Buffalo
epidemiologists has shown.
The study suggests that the biggest reason
for the high rate is because officers think
they have nowhere to go for confidential help
when personal problems or job stress
In an effort to encourage suicide awareness
training and stress management for law
enforcers, PPF provides the following
services and educational resources:
COP STRESS ARTICLES:
A&E’S “COP COUNSELORS” COURTESY OF
BILL KURTIS PRODUCTIONS
BILL KURTIS INTERVIEW
SURVIVING STREET PATROL BY VETERAN
POLICE OFFICER STEVE ALBRECHT
COPSHOCK BY ALLEN R. KATES
A&E’S BILL KURTIS
ONCE AGAIN LENDS HIS SUPPORT TO OUR
ANNUAL LAW ENFORCER SAFETY INITIATIVE
In an effort to combat the debilitating effects of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder among law enforcers, the
“Cop Counselors” from A&E’s
Police Protective Fund, in conjunction with Bill Kurtis and Investigative Reports.
Kurtis Productions, is proud to offer "Cop Counselors"
from the popular A&E series "Investigative Reports".
“YOUR INTEREST IN AND SUPPORT
This timely documentary examines how police officers OF THIS DOCUMENTARY IS THE
are exposed to more traumatic experiences in a few HIGHEST COMPLIMENT.
months on the job than most people experience in a
lifetime. Yet despite the stress, relatively few seek the
professional help of therapists, counselors or WE SINCERELY HOPE
psychologists. And sometimes, as with the rash of police THAT THIS SHOW
suicides in New York City in the late 1990's, the MIGHT HELP OTHERS
consequences can be tragic. BY SUGGESTING
“Cop Counselors” WAYS IN WHICH
"Cop Counselors" introduces
Request Form Below... three extraordinary individuals OFFICERS CAN
who are working to change the P R O T E C T
stigma of cops seeking help. By THEMSELVES ON THE
telling their stories, this remarkable video has already STREETS. I KNOW YOUR
helped thousands of officers find the help they need.
ORGANIZATION IS WORKING
It is the Police Protective Fund’s and Bill Kurtis’ hope TOWARD THE SAME GOAL. I
that by sharing this video with officers nationwide, we APPLAUD YOUR EFFORTS!”
will help spread the message that when you are
suffering, the strong thing to do, the smart thing to do, is BILL KURTIS
to get help!
YES, I WISH TO RECEIVE A
FREE VHS COPY OF “COP Chief/Sheriff _________________________________________
This important new educational resource
provides critical information that is Address _________________________________________
essential to law enforcement
professionals. Chiefs and Sheriff’s may City/State/Zip _________________________________________
request a free copy using this form.
Supplies are limited. e-mail _________________________________________
FAX request to: 1-800-227-1042.
Bill Kurtis Interview
The following is an interview with Bill Kurtis regarding
Cop Counselors and the Police Protective Fund’s
efforts to distribute this video nationwide.
By Joshua Meeks
There must be thousands of possible topics
for a show like yours. Why did you choose
cops and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Because it was such an overriding problem among
police. They called it combat fatigue during WWII. Then
they came up with PTSD to apply to men who were
traumatized by their wartime experiences. The VA
arranged group therapy sessions where soldiers
came together to share. Bill Kurtis
Our show is a way to short circuit that process. It What prompted you to address this issue?
brings people together without bringing them
together, if you know what I mean. It sounds funny, We recently got back from Columbine where we did
television is often criticized, but it really is a great the third year anniversary episode. What we found
way to learn. You can see what someone else is going was that everyone in the community is suffering from
through. Television can communicate from one unit a form of PTSD, from the Supreme Court justice who
to another, one city to another. was running the investigation to the families of those
killed. It just doesn’t go away.
Police Officers with PTSD can get counseling, but
frankly the healing power is in listening to other
The message of “Cop Counselors” is that like those
officers tell their story. When an officer hears one of
civilians at Columbine, police officers have to realize
his colleagues expressing feelings similar to his own,
that they too are vulnerable. You said “problem
it helps to relieve the pressure. We wanted this solvers,” before. Police officers are expected to be
project to speak to those heroes. They are
officers who might not expected to save
recognize their illness. others by running into
It’s incredibly important that every police fire. It’s terribly
We look for problem frustrating when it
solvers to fill the role
department in the country show this tape
doesn’t happen that
of Police Officer. because too many officers are unable to way, when they can’t
Problem solvers are accept their limitations. Providing this solve every problem.
not always They see the worst of
comfortable going to tape to department’s is as valuable as the worst. It’s
someone else and bulletproof vests. incredibly important
saying that they have that every police unit in
a problem. the country show this tape because too many
officers are unable to accept their limitations.
Did you attempt to direct the message of Cop
Counselors to the families and friends of cops What do you think of NAVPO’s effort to
-- people who may be able to encourage them distribute Cop Counselors to police officers?
to share their feelings?
It’s as valuable as bulletproof vests. Efforts like this
Yes, you described it nicely. My definition of will help to shield the psychology of police officers.
journalism is to communicate problems to intelligent When officers see this program, they will learn to
people who are going to solve those problems. recognize the PTSD warning signs in themselves and
others. If you know the signs and are willing to speak
So what is “Cop Counselors’” message for law up when you see them, you may save an officer’s
Look, you’re not invincible and you don’t have to be. Watching this video and learning more about PTSD
You don’t have to take it home with you. I have a son is just as important as learning techniques of self-
who is schizophrenic and the most comforting thing defense. If an officer doesn’t find ways to deal with
that the doctors say to me is, ‘you’re not to blame. the frustrating ills of society, he and his family will
You didn’t cause the problem. ’ That’s the message suffer when he carries his troubles home at the end
for me that got through. of the day.
SURVIVING STREET PATROL
AUTHOR AND VETERAN POLICE OFFICER STEVE ALBRECHT DISCUSSES
HIS BOOKS, NAVPO AND THE FUTURE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING
by Joshua Meeks
Police officers are a tight knit group and if you plan to tell them
something they don’t want to hear, you’d better send a police officer
to do it. Steve Albrecht, a veteran of the San Diego Police Department
and a talented writer, has been filling that role for nearly twenty years.
He has written extensively about the kind of practical, no-nonsense
law enforcement tactics that keep officers alive and on the streets.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of officers out there who don’t want to be told that they need to
change their ways. But Steve’s advice isn’t the same stale, technical style
found in many law enforcement manuals. In fact, he writes in such a loose,
stand-around-after-your-shift way, that even stubborn fourth and fifth year
officers can learn from it.
During his time with the SDPD, Albrecht wrote a column for his union paper,
The Informant. Entitled, “Street Work” his column addressed the types of
issues that experienced officers might overlook. From the simple act of
buckling your safety belt to dangerous dealings with methamphetamine “Officers often have no idea what support
addicts, his advice is directed at those simple, no-brainer mistakes that is available to them.”
get officers killed. When publications like Police Magazine, Police and
Security News and Law and Order Magazine recognized the benefits of Albrecht’s work, his
advice found a national stage.
“It’s the small details that will save your life,” Albrecht replies when asked what piece of
advice seems the most relevant for today’s police officers. Along with John Morrison (a man
that Albrecht describes as a tactical genius), Albrecht wrote “Contact and Cover” a book
that analyzes law enforcement tactics and is still used at the Federal Law Enforcement
Training Center. “John’s idea was a simple one but it works. When two officers are working
together, one talks to the
suspect while the other
watches his partner.” This
Supplement Your Training: Albrecht’s type of pairing seems simple
enough, but when done with
books “Streetwork” and “Surviving Street a rigid attention to protocol,
Patrol” are available on Amazon.com. a bad decision is half as likely
to be made. The result is a
Also look to find his courses at greater level of safety for the
ONLINEPOLICEACADEMY.org community, the officers and
Since retiring from the force
in 1999, Albrecht has been president of a threat management firm that specializes in
workplace violence. “There were 675 homicides attributed to workplace violence last year.
Although that may not sound like many, the dark numbers are the unreported cases of
threats, vandalism and sabotage.” One of Albrecht’s responsibilities with the firm is to
teach a four-hour class in which police officers learn how to deal with workplace violence
issues. “People who hate their jobs will fight to the death to keep them even though they are
miserable. What officers have to realize is that when they walk into a workplace violence
situation, the suspect knows the environment better than the responding officer. He knows
the hiding places, the weapons and the escape routes.”
When asked about NAVPO’s efforts to distribute the Bill Kurtis production, “Cop Counselors,”
Albrecht was fully supportive. “Spreading the word about cop counseling helps prevent
suicides by officers who have no idea what resources are available to them.” Citing as an
example, SDPD’s confidential counseling program F.O.C.U.S., Albrecht says the program
allows officers to take personal responsibility for their mental health. “Before FOCUS, we
lost a lot of cops after tragic events, including a 1978 airline crash, killing about 170 people.
Eight cops retired due to stress over that incident. But in 1984, after James Huberty killed
21 people at a nearby McDonalds, mostly little kids, we didn’t lose a single officer to stress.
FOCUS was instrumental after that tragedy in providing counseling and retaining officers.”
“COPSHOCK” BY ALLEN R. KATES
By Joshua Meeks
When there is trouble, police officers are called first. They
respond because that’s their job, because that’s what they do.
But the things they see, the messes they clean up before
anyone else sees them, those aren’t always so easy
to forget. Of the hundreds of officers and rescue
personnel who first responded to the Oklahoma City
Allen R. Kates
bombing, eight have already committed suicide.
Experts are predicting that 1 in 29 of the first
responders to the World Trade Center attacks will Truth, Honesty and
commit suicide. The numbers are tragic and they Eye-Opening Emotion
can be blamed, almost without exception, on an
illness called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Detective William H. Martin
(Ret.) was the inspiration for
“PTSD is a greater cop killer than all the guns ever “CopShock” and wrote the
www.CopShock.com. fired at police officers.” Those fifteen words sit Foreword for
astride the cover of Allen R. Kates book, “CopShock” the book. In
and they bear all the power of a loaded weapon. part, here is
what he says:
While the violent nature of a police officer’s job is responsible
“For most of
for a number of cop deaths every year, a far greater number of my police
cops take their own lives. “Police Officers who have years, I was
experienced crisis situations try to medicate themselves to addicted to
Det. William H. Martin
deal with the feelings,” Kates explains. “The traumatic images alcohol and
and horror get locked in their minds and it’s very difficult to prescription drugs. I often
deal with.” According to Kates, alcohol, drug use, gambling and had suicidal thoughts and
eating disorders are a number of ways in which police officers once tried to kill myself. I
attempt to self medicate. Unfortunately, these methods are didn’t realize that my
exposure to frequent trauma
never effective and many cops can’t handle the pain.
was causing PTSD.
Fortunately, I have benefited
To write “CopShock”, Kates conducted six years of research, from counseling and am now
consulted 200 psychological studies and performed hundreds in recovery. But maybe if I
of interviews with officers, therapists and hospital had this book when I was a
administrators. The resulting message that clearly resounds rookie cop the quality of my
throughout the book is that police life would have been better.
officers need to talk out their
problems. They need to share their “I have never read a book
with so much truth, honesty,
feelings and open a path through
eye-opening emotion and
which their pain can be released. problem identification as
Allen’s belief in this therapy is so “CopShock”. This book will
sincere and unwavering that he fired begin the healing process for
the publisher who wanted him to thousands of dedicated,
charge $35 for each copy of active-duty officers. These
“CopShock”. “The cops I interviewed officers have decades of
were really suffering and they trusted service left to perform, yet
me to get their stories out to the do not know that the
cumulative effects of PTSD
public and other officers.” At great
have taken a heavy toll on
“The traumatic images expense to himself, Kates self-published the book and keeps them. Even retired officers,
and horror get locked
in their minds and it’s the price low so that any officer can afford it. once they identify their
very difficult to deal symptoms, will begin to
Today, “CopShock” is recognized as the premier text on cops heal.”
with PTSD. It is featured at the National Law Enforcement
Memorial in Washington D.C. and a number of domestic and For over thirty-three years,
international agencies have cited Kates for his efforts to help Detective Martin served as
stop one of the greatest killers of police officers. Kates and his an emergency services
provider — two years in
book were recently featured prominently in the Bill Kurtis
ambulance service, two
production, “Cop Counselors” (available free from PPF, see years in volunteer fire
page 28). According to Kates there is a clear message in both service, four years in the
the book and video. “It gives officers permission to seek help. United States Coast Guard,
It gives them permission to break down the wall of silence and two years as an LAPD patrol
say, ‘Hey, it’s not that I’m weak if I talk, it’s that I’m strong if I officer and twenty-three
talk.” years as a detective.