We all know of some of the horrors that our brothers and sisters take home with them each night and live with – the scenes that cannot be unseen. Many of us cannot share these things with our family as we don’t want them to house the demons that haunt us. Sadly, some of the coping mechanisms we use are detrimental to us, to our families, and to our fellow officers. Drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and, far too often, suicide. We lose more cops to their own hands than we do to those who assault us. We do not even know how many retirees have lost their lives to suicide. It must stop. It can.
As we pass so many truly grim anniversaries, it is impossible not to reflect on the very real physical dangers posed to officers who pin a badge on every day. We passed the anniversary of 9/11 just last month, an event that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people on that day alone and so many first responders have perished since from physical and emotional injuries that the horrific attack poisoned them with.
We fairly recently passed the anniversary of the intentional targeting and callous murder of officers in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which have left officers at those scenes who survived scarred emotionally and all others who serve painfully aware that they could be targeted similarly. There have also been other dour anniversaries, like the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Florida that left officers with vivid memories of the horror and dispatchers with severe PTSD from answering the constant calls for help that ended abruptly and were replaced by a new caller from the tragic scene begging for help.
You can help. You have been there. You understand.
The I.U.P.A. is calling upon retired officers to volunteer with CopLine, which is a non-profit organization that assists law enforcement personnel (active/retired) and their families in times of need along with referrals to vetted mental health professionals.
This is a great opportunity to give back to those still wearing the badge and serving our communities. There could not be a more satisfying call to take than one from a fellow officer experiencing difficult moments who oftentimes has no one else to turn to. CopLine is confidential and most callers often remain anonymous so, in essence, it provides an environment that removes the stigma of discussing one’s feelings, and more importantly, the fear of any repercussions.
Anyone interested in volunteering with CopLine can reach out to CopLine Founder/Director, Psychotherapist Ms. Stephanie Samuels at [email protected]. Questions can be directed to Jim Alvarez (LAPD Retired) at [email protected]. Training is provided at no cost to the volunteer.
This service is critical and rewarding.
The I.U.P.A. strongly encourages our retired law enforcement professionals to participate. It will undoubtedly save the lives of our fellow active officers in blue as well provide critical support to their families who, as we all know, also have emotional scars associated with their loved one’s service and the danger they face daily.