‘I am tired of being used’: Phoenix cop resigns over the police radio then gives boss a brutal resignation letter

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PHOENIX, AZ – A police officer for the Phoenix Police Department apparently reached his tipping point when he was ordered to remain on duty at the end of his shift. The officer, upon receiving the order, replied that he was resigning over the radio.

The officer, Mark Rine, apparently felt that he was overworked, taken for granted, abused, and did not have the time to get appropriate rest to work. His feeling that way led to him giving the resignation over the radio on November 6th.

ABC15 was able to obtain the resignation letter which highlights Rine’s grievances.

It says in part:

“I am tired of being used, being abused, running on little food, little sleep. I resign my position. I no longer work in an environment where a lieutenant punishes an entire squad and holds over an entire squad because one or two people will not ‘volunteer’ to hold over.”

For those that are not in law enforcement, there are minimum staffing levels for every patrol shift. Those levels are mandated by both the agency as well as any police union to ensure that there is sufficient officers to handle all calls coming in daily.

When there are not enough officers to appropriately man a shift, in most agencies, the lieutenant or watch commander has the authority to require officers to stay past the end of their shifts for a certain amount of time, with this agency, it is two hours.

Currently, the Phoenix Police Department is understaffed which makes it difficult to allow people to go off duty on time.

This means that more officers are getting burned out with both overworking as well as the emotional trauma they endure daily, something which is noted by Ernie Stevens, a former officer and current Crisis and Resilient Specialist with the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council.

Stevens was told of the abrupt resignation over the radio by Rine and said:

“That is a cry for help, that what that is. A lot of police departments do not create a culture of wellness to help out their officers.”

Stevens is not necessarily speaking about physical health, but mainly mental health. Officers are exposed to situations every day which would make the normal person run.

Because of constantly seeing what is referred to as little traumas over time, officers tend to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These issues with officers become worse when the agency they work for is understaffed.

The Phoenix Police Department is significantly understaffed, having a total of 2,770 sworn officers in an agency that has over 3,000 positions. That makes it difficult for officers to have days off or vacation in which they can recuperate from whatever trauma they’ve experienced.

The President of the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, Lieutenant Ben Leuschner, admits that the agency is way below where they need to be to have adequate staffing. Some of the reasons Leuschner believes that are from what he describes as attacks from the media and lack of support from city leadership.

Leuschner said:

“I’ve never seen it this bad, the negativity coming from outside the police department on our members. And that takes a toll. They feel extremely attacked at times. And when you’re in a job where you don’t know if the next call you go on is the end of your career, that leads some people to start going ‘maybe this is not the right career.’”

While this most certainly is an aspect of the lack of officers for the city, city leadership is working on getting the agency fully staffed as quickly as possible. The Phoenix Police Department has started to offer $7,500 bonuses to recruits and to officers who decided to laterally move from another agency.

However, although there is a significant financial incentive to work for the agency, they report that it has not seemed to work as expected.

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Law Enforcement Today is so proud and excited to share with you our new resource for officers. Now you can find resources for all different subjects all in one place, right on our website.

There are different categories, such as mental health, officer wellness, and legal help.

Go to the Law Enforcement Today website and click on the “Need Help?” tab to see all resources.

Now we want to introduce you to a particular officer, we will call him Johnny Law.

Johnny realized in his childhood that he wanted to become a police officer.  The first chance he got, he attended the police academy and eventually realized his dream.  Throughout the years, he honed his craft, learning how to talk to people, interview them, and testify in court until he became proficient at his job. 

Responding to car wrecks, seeing severely injured people, dead people, in ways that the average person could never understand began to leave him depressed. 

Seeing victims of domestic violence who called police just to get the fight to stop, then fought Johnny when he went to arrest the abuser. 

Witnessing the awful injuries to children, sometimes babies, whose parent(s) took out their anger or chemically induced rage against them. 

Seeing a young child who had been sexually molested twice in her life, and hearing her ask him through tears, “Why does this happen to me?”

What no one else realized, what Johnny had been seeing and feeling over the years was taking a toll.

Johnny started constantly seeing replays of the awful things he had seen in his mind when he tried to sleep. 

He started to look at everyone like they are criminals, liars and suspects.

He couldn’t have a normal conversation with people because he was constantly looking over his shoulder, wondering which passerby was going to try to kill him. 

Johnny started to drink alcohol a little too much; he discovered that it allowed him to forget about what he was feeling, if only for a little while. 

Johnny’s career continued. One night, he finds himself responding to a 911 hang-up call for service toward the end of his shift.  He is not concerned because these calls happen all the time, usually because a kid is playing on the phone or someone misdialed. 

Johnny approaches the door to make contact, just as a man exits with a gun. The man immediately begins firing at Johnny.

Johnny is able to escape to cover behind a neighbor’s car as he pulls his firearm.  The male continues shooting, and Johnny returns fire, striking the man who then slumps down to the ground. 

Johnny runs to him, gun aimed in case he tries to shoot again.  As he approaches, he sees that the man is dead and there is no way to attempt to save him. 

A million emotions rush over him: fear, thankfulness that he survived, shock, anger, and sudden grief and guilt. 

Here he is, sworn to protect human life, and he was forced to take one.

When the supervisor arrives, she has another officer take him to the station where his gun is taken.  He is told to talk to no one about the incident and is not allowed to call his family until he speaks to his union attorney. 

Images flash through his mind of the shooting and he questions if he could have done something, anything, to avoid having to take the man’s life. 

Finally Johnny speaks with the attorney.  He’s able to give his account as to what happened, and then he’s taken home by another officer. 

Johnny is told not to watch the news because of what may be said about him. He’s told not to read the newspaper, not to go online and read any comments from people.

He is not allowed to discuss the case with anyone other than his attorney and the shooting investigation team. 

For the next two weeks, he does not sleep because the nightmares are too real, and his drinking becomes excessive.  At the end of the two weeks, he is told that his shooting appeared to be justified and he can return to work. He’s told that the state most likely will not indict him on any criminal charges or wrongdoing.

Months go by. His drinking increases. 

He soon finds himself drinking a bottle of whiskey a night, which increases to two and a half.

Johnny’s children no longer like to be around him because of his anger issues. 

Johnny’s wife asks him to stop drinking and get help. He refuses. He doesn’t believe he has a problem. He just wants to escape the negative thoughts, and drinking is the only way he knows how to. 

Eventually, Johnny shows up to work smelling of alcohol, which forces his police department to give him a choice: Get help or get fired.  

Reluctantly, Johnny decides to seek help and goes through treatment.  Although the damage done to his reputation and his personal life will likely take years to fix, Johnny is on the right path.

Now, four years later, he’s still sober.  

Johnny’s story is a factual one of an officer who did not wish to share his name.  Unfortunately, many officers begin to use alcohol to numb themselves from the negative experiences they have had throughout their careers, but few seek help. 

Although there are many reasons one does not to seek help, the biggest reason is it is seen as a weakness to other officers for someone to admit they are hurting, that they need counseling in some form. 

The stigma that comes with officers seeking mental counseling or other forms of treatment needs to end. We are human. 

We scream that phrase at the TV or on social media comments when we hear people talk negatively about an officer- he should have done this, she should have said that.

We are human.

We have feelings, emotions, thoughts, just like everyone else. We should be able to ask for help without being looked down upon.

Now, more than ever, we need to be our brother or sister’s keeper. 

Things across the nation are more intense than they have ever been in any of our lifetimes. There is a war on police, and we need our soldiers strong. Healthy. Stable.

We need to be there for each other, be willing to listen and not judge what someone is feeling. 

Another problem officers run into is they simply don’t know where to turn. They don’t know who to trust. 

Certainly they don’t want to talk to a department therapist, or even through Employee Assistance Program. Because they fear they’ll turn right around and report everything to the department, who will in turn take their gun and therefore their livelihood.

Please understand, that’s a nonissue. There are so many resources available, so many groups who are here for you. Therapists are vetted through many of these resources, and sometimes it won’t even get to the point of needing an actual therapist- peer support is sometimes enough.

For these reasons, to kill the stigma and to ask (even beg) those who need help to seek it, Law Enforcement Today is beginning a new era in guiding you to pro-police programs and counselors. 

Asking for help is not a weakness; in fact, it takes an incredible amount of strength to open that door. We are hoping that having those resources at your fingertips will help nudge you to turn the doorknob.

If you or someone you know needs help, please check out the “Need Help?” section on the Law Enforcement Today website to see what help is available. 

If there’s something you need help with that you can’t find on our site, please reach out to us. We’re here for you.

If you’d like to get your organization listed on our resource page, send an email to [email protected]

If you would like to share your story with Law Enforcement Today, in the hopes that it may help others, please send it to [email protected] We would love to hear your story and use it to encourage others to get help. 

 

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