Editor Note: This article was submitted to us over the weekend. We’ve decided to publish it because this author’s story might be his own, but it’s also that of so many other police officers in departments across the country. It’s only been edited for spelling and grammar – not for content.
All too often, we dismiss our own brothers and sisters who are dealing with family issues, alcoholism or depression. Not anymore.
We want to hear your stories. Send them to us in the comments below.
I was an NYPD Officer for 15 years with honorable service.
I was modified and restricted about 12 years in because of domestic family problems that stemmed from drug abuse by my stepson.
My wife was in denial, and I was trying my best to be his hero and combat this terrible addiction by myself.
He was in turmoil, coming home in the middle of the night … sneaking drugs into my house. It hit a point where he lost his house key and snuck in through the fire escape window. Not knowing it was him, I pulled my weapon on him.
I was in fear for my life, as well as my wife’s, because I assumed I was being burglarized by an perpetrator. We had moved to a relatively safe neighborhood on the outskirts of the 5 boroughs of NYC.
I had worked very hard to provide a stable family life for my wife and her son as well as her grandkids.
I am now 50-years-old, she is 51. As a result of these issues like this unfortunate night so many others (he stole my gun, he stole my car, etc.), I was choking with this situation.
I asked my wife to either admit him to rehab, or I would have to leave the house I worked hard for. By doing so, I knew I’d have to build my career with no support from her or her family or her kids.
My son and I were fine, but I was hurting inside. My son didn’t live with us – he lived with his mother elsewhere.
My wife at the time was in such denial, she even called my job to file a complaint against me, saying that I threatened to do bodily harm to her and her son.
Why would I have done this? Why would I throw away my career? It doesn’t make any sense.
I was immediately modified and restricted and basically forced to turn over my guns and my shield. I was placed in a mental evaluation facility for 7 days for evaluation. I was released and placed on modified duty (a.k.a. desk duty) for the next 3 years.
I started coming home late from overtime detail. I started drinking at home with a neighbor.
I’m not sure where I went wrong, but I started to feel angry that I may have caused all of this … but how?
I felt defenseless and in trouble inside for three years. I could not sleep or eat or feel loved by my wife and family, so I spiraled out of control with my alcohol abuse.
That in turn caused my health to deteriorate, and I developed type 2 diabetes that I now take a small dose of insulin for every day.
The job I worked for was rewarding, but they were complacent with their social behavioral and domestic violence programs that were supposed to be geared towards helping officers with domestic issues in the home.
We help people outside the home and on the job when that radio says “52 family dispute with a weapon”. We help when there’s an emotionally disturbed person (EDP) destroying the home and family can’t control their loved one.
But when we are the subjects of the same type of issues, the job just ignores what is happening and just doesn’t want to get involved.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed at the fact that every time I had to notify the operations desk that I had an issue, I was hoping someone anyone would come to our home and offer us help.
But of course this never happened. If it did, maybe my career could have been saved and my marriage could have been saved and my stepson could have been saved.
Why? Why didn’t my job send a representative uniform or civilian professional to help?
They were too busy? They were not concerned?
Sure, they allegedly had programs available at the time – POPPA or COPE and the other ones like “Are You Ok?”. And now they have the EAU Unit with supposedly counselors.
But nobody came to my side and supported me during my end of my career troubles.
I was let go on a disability retirement. City officials and a psychologist claimed I was damaged mentally from all of this trauma, and was not fit for police work anymore.
Taking meds for my condition and being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was too much for me to handle, so I agreed to leave the job I loved and move on.
Don’t let this happen to another officer who loved helping people and saving lives. Helping others actually helped ME.
I have a BS Degree in Human Services, MS Degree In Social Work and now I’m doing my Doctorate Degree my PhD in Theology Studies.
I want to teach others in the law enforcement field about how psychology helped protect me when I was in.
I had many situations where if I didn’t reach my perpetrator mentally and emotionally, I would be at risk of my safety as well as my partners safety.
Sign out and go home every day – that’s all the bosses cared about.
I was a good cop, and I forever will remember my days on patrol with good partners as well as my favorite ones – you know who you are!
May God bless the NYPD and all its members. May God keep them safe from harm and allow all of them to retire with dignity, full honors and safety in peace… not like what happened to me.