Faith & Family

Policing and Personal Pain: Freedom for Healing from Your Past


(Photo source Dr. Scott Silverii)

Policing and Personal Pain: Freedom for Healing from Your Past

This article is sort of a homecoming for me. I contributed to LET a few years back while I was a chief of police. While I still support efficient and effective data driven policing, my God-driven passion is for your healing and survival.

I’m not talking about defensive tactics or shooting techniques. This is a much deeper and more personal threat to your well-being. These are dangers that destroy you from within before you really understand what happened.

Full disclosure; I began my career in the era where you just shut up and endured it. Thankfully, I progressed through the evolution of police self-care and wellness. I know there are still old-school holdovers, but I trust you’ll at least give your best interests some consideration.

There’s a tradeoff in professional success and personal destruction. Sometimes, the correlation is that the harder you work to clean up the streets, the messier your personal life becomes. When your focus remains on the last arrest or the next case instead of your kid’s birthday or wedding anniversary, you can expect the mess.


We all carry pain. I’m not talking about the twisted ankle from last night’s foot pursuit. I’m talking about deep personal pain that endures throughout most of your life. The sources of pain will vary, but the results are the same.

This is where some guys may begin to balk at the idea of healing, but I hope you sincerely explore the reality of past sources of pain that cause current consequences. Did your parents divorce? Were you sexually molested as a child? Did your dad abandon the family? How did your first serious relationship end up? Do you have kids out of marriage? Have you experimented with drugs or alcohol at an early age? Did you discover pornography in your teens and still struggle to put it away? These are just a few examples, but these are soul-injuring events that happen often.

I’m not passing judgment and surely not asking you to raise your hand. All I’m asking you to do is drop the defensive façade and think about this—you are the only one who knows what happened in your life. If you are the rare gem who grew up with kittens and unicorn memories, then hallelujah for you. But for the other 98% of us who had crap to deal with and no one to help us process it, this is for you.

This also isn’t a competition. We all experience insult and injury in different ways. While some trauma rolls off our backs, other incidents stick to it. I know when we talk about trauma, we default to work related events such as injury or officer involved shootings. But, some of the deepest, longest lasting pain is caused by family relationships.


I had a dominant, disengaged father who up until the day he died in 2016, never spoke to me. No matter how tough we are, everyone desires human connection and affirmation. That pain drove me to prove myself to him until his last breath.

I worked like the possessed as I rose from a parish patrol deputy to a city’s chief of police. In my desperation to medicate the darkness, I filled every waking moment in school to earn a bachelors, a masters, and a PhD just so he might say, “Good job.”

Nope, nothing. And it stung.

That pain led to my addiction of consumption for earthly crowns and accolades. I needed to conquer, no matter the cost, to feel good about myself. How are you medicating your personal demons? It’s no different than the junkie’s high. Nothing will fill the void, and until we heal, the lows continue to dip deeper than the temporary highs.


It wasn’t until I stepped away from policing that I was able to remove the mask. For the first time, I understood the effects of unresolved hurt, and the negative results of a dysfunctional family relationship.

Healing requires light. I know many of you won’t agree to this. You figure it’s better to hide your pain and your sins in the dark chambers of your heart. It hurts like hell, but at least your vulnerabilities are hidden.

After all, what would happen to your career and credibility if anyone suspected you were weak in one area? I’d ask you to stop worrying about your job and start caring about how it affects your life, wife, and family.

I get it. I carried piles of baggage for decades until it almost did me in. While we like to blame the cop culture for why we suffer and act out, truth is, most of us came to this fraternity with unrealized injuries. The exposure to the ilk of humanity just caused your wounds to become infected through exposure to other’s pain.


Blue, you take care of others but you fail to take care of yourself. There’s a reason why we’re vulnerable to poor health, divorce, sexual addictions, alcohol abuse, gambling, domestic violence, high blood pressure, and suicide.

Unresolved personal pain placed inside the pressure cooker of cop work will manifest itself into something dangerous. You deserve the freedom from your past pain. Brothers, it’s time to heal.

Chief Scott Silverii, PhD was career law enforcement until God called him to serve in 2015. He promptly retired as a Chief of Police and started the Marriage Matters ministry with his wife, Leah. They are both certified as Marriage On The Rock counselors as well as SYMBIS facilitators.

The chief admits that the stressful culture’s effect on law enforcement lives and families has led him to now serve the profession instead of the public.

“No one is warning these young officers or their families about the real-life struggles they’ll experience at home and work. They deserve the truth, or divorce, addiction and suicide will continue to plague the fraternity.”

While he wasn’t on duty, Scott earned a Master of Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. His doctoral research on police organizational behavior and special operations subcultures earned a publishing contract. Cop Culture: Why Good Cops Go Bad has become the standard for effecting change for good.    

A nationally renowned public speaker and mentor, Scott was led to start Brick Breakers men’s ministry in 2017 to help men find freedom from the pain of their pasts. He’s replaced writing arrest reports and police policy with encouragement for those who have experienced divorce, remarriage and blended families.He is always available for his Brothers and Sisters in Service.

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Dr. Scott Silverii

Chief Scott Silverii, PhD retired in 2015 when God called him into ministry. He and his wife, Leah started Marriage Matters ministry. They are certified Marriage On The Rock counselors as well as SYMBIS facilitators. The effect on law enforcement lives and families led him to serve the profession instead of the public. “No one is warning these young officers or their families about the real-life struggles they’ll experience at home and work. They deserve the truth, or divorce, addiction and suicide will continue to plague the fraternity.” Scott holds a Master of Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. His doctoral research on police culture has been published as a college textbook and law enforcement resource. A nationally renowned public speaker and mentor, Scott also started Brick Breakers men's ministry to help men find freedom from the pain of their pasts. He is always available for his Brothers and Sisters in the Service.

Gee, Scott……today, by your revelation and raw honesty, i saw a part of scott silverii never before revealed or knowing to me. not that i needed to know it or it made a difference in our relationship …….. it just made me see you as a real human being, like the rest of the struggling ones among us who may be fighting deep family issues and denials that they existed. your words today felt like a good old fashioned cleansing bath, for yourself and by sharing with others, it was for them too. Happy to see you return to LET!! as you tell us so many times ‘do good’………today was your ‘do good’ my friend……and it ‘felt good!!’ Carry on!!

Hi Rita,
Wonderful seeing you here. Thank you dearly.I felt the mask come off the day after retirement, but wasn’t sure what was beneath. There was a lot of hurt stuffed behind there. No more – Christ has set me free.
Miss you,

Dr. Silverii, I just finished reading your article and I can not BEGIN to express the FAMILIARITY it struck within me. As I approach my 29th year as a leo and current member of the peer support team, your article was a fantastic read and right on target with many of of in the PROFESSION. Dan p

Hi Dan,
Thank you for serving. I appreciate this, and have lived to survive it myself. It goes much further than a “cop thing,” but it seems the pressure of our jobs exponentially increase the pain and prolong the healing.
May God bless you and keep you,

dr. Scott I cannot tell you how your words rang so true for me. I am a retired leo investigator 34 years working in Chicago most of my career. Working for the sheriffs dept. I along with my brothers and sisters lost a partner who was shot and killed in the line of duty 2013. not to mention officer suicides. People say get over it and move on. I never see that happening.
I guess if I where one of the leo’s who where on the job just for the pay check moving on would not be hard. They teach you not to get personally involved. but that is easier said then done when you really care about the victims of crime. I did and yes as you say there is a price to pay for that.
When we are working and moving at the fast pace of life so much gets by us. in my case since I retired I have had so much time to replay in my mind the 34 years of my life. A friend of mine (a female police officer) once asked me if I ever sit and think how I would do things different on the job. I told her yes all the time. and that is so very true since I retired because now I have the time to think about everything. Your words Scott said everything I feel.
If I had it to do all over again I would sit down with my family (now divorced) and explain to them what my job really was instead of shielding them from it thinking I was protecting them. I did more harm then good.
As a police commissioner I insisted on doing an orientation for applicants seeking a position on the police dept. and encouraged them to bring a family member with them. The applicants where required to attend. I would explain the job and what was required of them as police officers. Explaining to them what they would see in high crime neighborhoods.and what effects it may have on them. (it’s not tv). Along with me I would have the chief and deputy chief and others to assist me in an attempt to help them avoid the mistakes I/we made while on the job. Giving our family and loved one’s equal time. not taking time from them as you had stated thinking how you where going to find and arrest someone tomorrow instead of giving that time to your loved ones.
Sorry I went on and on dr. scott. but what you said rang so true I just had to explain and say thank you sir
I am very sorry your father never acknowledged your accomplishments which I see where many.

Hi Brother richard,
thank you kindly for this. i was reading it over supper with my and it hit me extra deep watching them sitting there laughing and safe without a clue what lives in our heart and head.
i understand about retirement. as long as i was moving fast, “it” couldn’t catch me. the second i stopped, it took about a year to fight and escape it. the family sit-down should be part of the academy. they live the job like we do, only we get a say so in what goes down (kinda)
brother, no apologies for going on. i can sit and talk for hours with my brothers and sisters. and, a big thank you for saying that about my dad, that’s a work in progress, but making headway.
I’ll be praying for you to soon unpack the past and place it where it’s best recalled and appreciated.
Thank you,

Thank you Sir. Always be happy and Safe

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