I believe that this career of ours is toxic, and I think that everyone of us suffers from its effects, mostly in silence. I think that there are “Hidden Dangers” to this job that no one ever warned me about, and I think it’s time that we all talked about them. New people coming into law enforcement need to know exactly what threats they will face. Those of us still on the job, or retired, should do some realistic “threat assessment” to ensure that we are adequately protecting ourselves from all of those threats.
Police officer stress, depression, PTSD, suicide and other wellness issues are problems that are long overdue for serious discussion within our profession. We need active discussion, awareness training and action, because If we don’t care about it, who will? We are leaving a legacy for our police families to deal with because we are too ignorant or afraid to handle the fact that more of our brothers and sisters are falling at their own hands than are being murdered in the line of duty. This is an issue that should be discussed in command staff meetings, as much as in roll call sessions, in law enforcement agencies and organizations around the world.
Because of all of these issues about the toxic nature of our profession, I believe that we need some common points of reference. I have taken to calling all the issues surrounding the hidden dangers and toxic side-effects of a law enforcement career as “Blue Trauma Syndrome” just to create a common term with which we might all be familiar for discussion purposes.
Blue Trauma Syndrome
At the Law Enforcement Survival Institute we define the Blue Trauma Syndrome as “a spectrum of negative physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health-effects manifested by a career in law enforcement”. Blue trauma syndrome most certainly has its roots in large or cumulative doses of negative occupational stress and manifests many negative physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual symptoms. The key point to understand in our creation of the concept of Blue Trauma Syndrome is not so much as to truly define it as it is to find ways to prevent it’s cumulative effects, whatever you call those cumulative effects.
I believe that the establishment of an effective law enforcement wellness programs is based upon a three pronged approach. Strategies for prevention need to be targeted toward building strength in the individual, the agency and within our law enforcement culture as a whole. If we are truly going to impact this problem we must fight it on all three of these fronts. We must strengthen ourselves individually. We must provide the kinds of agency programs and services that encourage wellness and prevention. We must change our culture to be more tolerant of proactive mental health and wellness. We need to have a culture that really walks its talk so that when we say “no one gets left behind” or “I’ve got your back” we really mean that and take care of each other whether we are injured physically or mentally from the job.
Law enforcement officers around the globe come in many shapes and sizes and their uniforms come in many colors. Throughout history law enforcement has taken many forms from Prefects of ancient China to the Praetorian Guard of Rome and the Scythian slaves of Greece, and through the Hermandades in Spain and Office of Lieutenant Général de Police of France to the Bow Street Runners and Constables of England. It was Sir Robert Peel, the Home Secretary of England, who established the Metropolitan Police Service on September 29, 1829 in London, as the first modern and professional police force in the world. Their uniforms were blue to differentiate them from the military. Blue has become the universal representation of law enforcement no matter what color their uniforms are today. Because of that distinction we will always be the “Thin Blue Line” protecting a peaceful society from the evils and chaos that have always threatened our existence.
The Code of True Blue Valor™ is an Honor Code or statement of integrity based upon the most cherished of law enforcement and human beliefs and ethical principles. It is a standard upon which we can base our ethical and compassionate decisions on how to work with and support our peers. Being True Blue means supporting and developing the profession of law enforcement and its members by all means honorable, ethical and professional. Being “True to the Blue”.
The Code of True Blue Valor™ is a law enforcement honor code that says we will protect our brothers and sisters behind the badge from all the dangers, hidden and otherwise, that threaten their life, health, families and happiness.
“Blue Valor” means having the strength of character and integrity to guide, support, encourage and mentor our peers for success. Encouraging their strength might just save our own lives. It also means having the courage and strength to intervene, when appropriate, by starting a “courageous conversation” with someone who is struggling. Minding our own business is not a luxury we can enjoy when our “business” is law enforcement. If we are willing to risk our lives in the protection and service of our citizens, then we should be willing to have the strength and courage to protect and support our peers. It is not about endlessly bullying our peers to “make them stronger”. That’s is not helpful, and we need to stop it. We all face enough trauma, tragedy and danger on the streets and in our jobs that we don’t need to have more piled on by our peers.
The Code of True Blue Valor™
- To maintain a code of honor and integrity to protect and to serve my community and to protect and support my peers.
- True Blue Valor™ means having the courage to do what is right and to do the right things.
- To Armor my “Self” physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually so that I am better able to protect and to serve.
- To Armor my Agency so that it is best able to protect and serve its people and its community.
- To have the courage to walk my talk and look after my peers. If I say “We are all one family” and “I’ve got your back” then I will mean it.
- As a matter of honor I pledge that on my watch, “No one gets left behind”.
© 2014 The Law Enforcement Survival Institute – All Rights Reserved
CLICK HERE to download a free PDF copy of the Code of True Blue Valor™
I invite you all to adopt the Code of True Blue Valor™ for yourself and for your agency.
Founder of CopsAlive.com
The Law Enforcement Survival Institute
“Saving the Lives of the People Who Save Lives”