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Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement is energetic, honest and very driven. This book is not just for those working in law enforcement, but also for anyone that has a family member, or friend that is. It is a difficult career and very few will understand the emotional toll it takes. This book can be seen as a true guide for academy recruits, officers, and their families.
While reading this book I have absorbed some firsthand knowledge that changed my life and in a sense might also save it. Like many others my journey in Law Enforcement started with the academy. To name just a portion of what my experience has been like, there are hours of classroom learning, test, driving, firearms, defensive tactics, physical fitness and tactical training. The journey through law enforcement begins with the acceptance letter I received in the mail. As I embark onto this new and thrilling career excited about learning new things, but a little anxious about the unknown, too.
Chapter one opens with the topic of friendships and how they can be created through your journey in law enforcement. Friendships are formed from common interest, support and trust that together will become molded, which will turn into a relationship between people. Since starting the academy I had the opportunity to develop those friendships.
As a recruit in the evening academy you will spend countless of hours with strangers at first, and you believe we share no common interest, come from different social backgrounds and ethnicities, however the one mutual thing you do share, is becoming a police officer. That reason alone separates us from many and brought us all together as one. “Although work relationships can be supportive and available, personal relationships can become strained, distant, and dysfunctional”. (Gilmartin, 2002, p.3) While going through the academy you begin to form new friendships with recruits while your personal relationships become secondary. The schedule changes, your availability has changed, and you just become unsociable.
Emotional survival hypervigilance chapter really stuck out to me. In any situation, an officer must be ready for potential risk. In the academy we are taught to perceive our environment rapidly and accurately if it is standing at attention when command enters the room, or being aware of all possible threats during a building-clearing scenario. We have learned early in our career to be on guard, a more accurate term would be hypervigilance. Having this increased aware of alertness of our surrounding environment can be the reason I go home every day to my loved ones after work. Throughout the academy we are practicing good officer safety through traffic stops, active shooter training and even defensive tactics. While in this state of alertness this has increased awareness and elevated my sense of attention. However, this does have a downside to it.
The disadvantage to hypervigilance comes with the rollercoaster effects. In chapter six this rollercoaster originates from being on-duty feeling alive and involved to off-duty tired, isolated and disengaged. “The “I usta” syndrome is basically a statement that all those activities that existed before becoming a police officer, that helped define the officer as a complete person, have been put on the back burner”. (Gilmartin, 2002, p.69) All the activities that help define me as a person I want to continue. With this balance, I will be able to run, Crossfit and enjoy all of my known work related activities and avoid the hypervigilance rollercoaster.
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