Retired Cop’s answer to an academic is awesome. 

Below is a question posed by someone apparently NOT in law enforcement on a law-enforcement FB group site, and my answer to it. I thought it might be interesting enough to post here:

Her question:

“I have a question for the group… do you think law enforcement professionals struggle with mental health disorders that they mask or normalize within the law enforcement culture?”

(From wikimedia commons)

(From wikimedia commons)

My answer:

Your question is esoteric and difficult to answer, but I’ll do my best to dance around the general topic.

You seem, but the very wording and nature of your question, to assume that police officers in general “struggle with mental health disorder.” I read that to mean that you think ALL police officers struggle with mental health disorders. That is most emphatically not the case and is actually an insulting question.

I spent 2 years in law enforcement in a small town in Maryland (Havre de Grace), and 36 years in law enforcement in the violent city of Baltimore, with the first 18 years spent “on the street” in one of the most brutal sections of the city, and I don’t believe I “struggle with [a] mental health disorder.” Your question seems to suggest I do.

Next, I have a suggestion for any academic who thinks they know a thing or two about police work and it’s denizens. Read the book ‘Signal Zero’ by George Kirkham. Then we can talk.

(Book cover photo from bookfinder.com)

(Book cover photo from bookfinder.com)

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In my odd way of responding to your question, I note that one of the central questions by academicians over the years regarding law enforcement and its members is:

Did you become misanthropic BECAUSE of police work, or did your misanthropic behavior ATTRACT you to police work?

Substitute the word “violent” or any other pejorative you like for the word “misanthropic” and the question remains the same. And it’s insulting.

The usual follow-up to that central question is: Is it by nature or by environment that you are this kind of defective person?

The implied question by the questioner that police officers are necessarily imperfect humans eventually consumed by their own sequela is, to me, disturbing.

I never heard back from her.

Baltimore Police

The Baltimore Police face off against rioters during the 2015 protests. (Wikipedia Commons)