Yes, I know the acronym is not what you are used to seeing but it isn’t wrong. It’s Post Traumatic Ferguson Disorder and I want to address it with my fellow officers for just a moment.
This time of year is known to be stressful enough without the added “stresser” of the media onslaught against the police going on now. I know how you feel, you put your heart and soul into doing this job every day and it seems that the whole world is against you. If you aren’t watchful, you will find yourself growing angry or distant or depressed or any combination of the above.
Those of us who are of a certain age remember that we have been there before in this country. In the 1960’s during the Vietnam protests, the race riots such as the Watts Riots and others show that public opinion swings like a pendulum with highs and lows. If it feels worse now it’s because of the ever present social media which gives every legal “scholar” immediate access to a public forum in which to spew their stupidity. Again, if we are not watchful, we may find ourselves profoundly impacted negatively. The danger here is, if we allow this to happen, it can affect not only our job performance but our familial relationships as well.
As a designated Chaplain, I am proposing that fellow officers do the following:
1. Remind yourself daily that you are making a difference for the good and then encourage a co-worker to do the same.
2. If you find that social media is bringing you down, turn it off!
3. Spend time with your family and friends you trust. Be careful not to shut everyone out, which is the natural tendency when one becomes depressed.
4. If someone you trust mentions to you that you seem more angry, resentful, depressed, or that your temper is shorter than usual… believe them and talk about it.
5. Talk to your Chaplain. As long as you don’t confess to a murder or similar heinous crime our talks will remain confidential.
6. Go fishing, hunting, shopping, bike riding, golfing… anything but policing as often as you can.
7. If you are a person of faith, seek solace and strength there.
We have an important job to do and they need us even if they won’t admit it. It is imperative that you not allow yourself to make decisions based on your fear of media reprisals. You can’t afford to second guess yourself when that life/death decision has to be made.
Stay strong brothers and sisters and know that you are absolutely making a difference for good every single day!