Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement Officers With Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D.

Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement Officers With Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D.

OYM Kevin | Emotional Survival

 

Being on law enforcement is not an easy path to take, not only for the officers themselves but also for their families. That is why it is equally important to talk about the emotional component of being in this field. Bringing this necessary conversation to light, host Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D. invites over Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist specializing in law enforcement and public safety-related issues. With his book, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement, Kevin talks to us about the unique challenges of the men and women in the criminal justice system. In particular, they tap into the psychological dynamics and biological components of mental health issues among police officers and what we can all do collectively to provide them the psychological resilience they need. Kevin further talks about pushing forward the importance of education on emotional survival to law enforcement departments.

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Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement Officers With Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D.

Dr. Kevin Gilmartin is a Behavioral Scientist specializing in law enforcement and public safety related issues. He is the author of the book Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement: A Guide for Officers and Their Families.

“An older police officer walks up to me, probably in his mid-40s. He has a whole stack of those books that we’re talking about, the Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement book. He goes, “Dr. Gilmartin, can I impose upon you, sir? Would you dome the honor of signing these for me?” I said, “It’d be my honor. Who can I make them out to?” He looks at me and he goes, “My ex-wives.” I said, “Your ex-wives,” plural? He goes, “Yeah, I have three of them. I refer to them as P1, P2 and P3 for Plaintiff 1, Plaintiff 2 and Plaintiff 3 because they’re always suing me.” I said, “They’re going to get a class action suit against you.” I think he’s being lighthearted, but then I realized he’s not being lighthearted. I said, “Do you want me to sign books for your ex-wives?” He goes, “Yeah, I do.” I said, “Can I ask you why? I’ve never been asked to do that before. I’ve never had that request. Why do you want to sign books for your ex-wives?” He goes, “I want to say I’m sorry. I want to say that our divorces were 100% my fault. I’ve ruined the marriages, they didn’t.”

Welcome.

Thank you for having me.

I’m a psychologist with 45 years of experience. I started as a probation officer. My tendency has to be results-oriented and practical in whatever I do with people. I had a wife of a law enforcement person tell me about your book. I read it and then read it again and said, “I’ve got to get this guy on the show if that’s possible.”

I appreciate that. I hope the book helped your client.

Yeah, and it’s helped several other people. She’s in the same position that I am. She wants more and more people to read this because it was so much a description of her life with her husband.

I enjoy hearing that. That was our point in doing the book. I’m not a writer. It was a struggle for me to put that in the paper. The sales on that book have gone into several million without any marketing. It has taken off across the US, Canada, and Australia. The cops are pragmatic people. They tell us the book helps them, so that pleases me.

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What drew you to write a book like this, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement?

It was ironic. The genesis of the book came about from a conversation with an officer that I worked with during my policing career. He said bluntly, “You need to write a book.” I said, “I don’t want to write a book. I don’t have any interest in writing a book.” He went on and said, “That class you teach on emotional survival helps people. When you die, the information dies so you have to write it down.” I said, “You’re a pleasant person to listen to. You don’t think the cemeteries are full of people who had something to say?” He says, “I guess they are.” That was the sole motivation to write the book to capture some of the information that we had learned over decades of working with police families and hopefully putting out some suggestions that might help them.

Not too far into the book, you cite that the Fraternal Order of Police death rates put suicide as the highest for law enforcement officers.

I remember citing that study that the Fraternal Order of Police did. I don’t think that has changed in the ensuing years since the book has been written. One of the paradoxes over many years has been we have an increased awareness of mental health services for police. You would think that would translate into a decreasing suicide rate. The best knowledge I can find is that it hasn’t. We have an increasing suicide rate. Maybe there’s something going on other than traditional psychological issues. Maybe the men and women in the criminal justice system have some unique challenges that have to be addressed. I’m convinced of that. That’s what we try to talk about it in the book.

You do a masterful job of that. One of the things you talk about is a matter of perspective. The world view that’s developed and how at one level, it works to help keep officers safe from that immediate danger when they’re on-duty. Yet, it produces this hypervigilance that leads to a whole different set of problems if it’s not addressed. Can you talk about that?

Your question hit the nail exactly on the head and shows some insight into the issue that you have. To do the job as a police officer, as a probation officer, as a corrections officer, you walk into situations every day that have intense life and death consequences. What the professional does is raise their level of alertness, which they have to do, which is required into the state we call hypervigilance, which is a physical state. It’s the elevation of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system.

Peripheral visions increased, reaction time increases, the officer’s decision-making increases, and they remain in that biological state for the entire duration of their professional day. When they get off-duty, that biological response produces an equal and opposite reaction. The body swings them from high sympathetic autonomic nervous system arousal into parasympathetic, which means when they get off-duty, they drop into this biologically-based depression. They become lethargic, detached, isolated, and they don’t feel like doing anything.

The very state that is required to do the job safely is also the state that causes tremendous psychological harm in the criminal justice professional after work. It also now, over the years the research is showing, sets them up for a few intense life-ending diseases that can be prevented. It’s a roller coaster swing. We call it the biological roller coaster. Intense engagement on-duty with this exhausted state off-duty. They live between these two phases of their life. It doesn’t work for people. They might do well for 4, 5, 6 years, but in the long run, it’s a formula for disaster.

OYM Kevin | Emotional Survival
Emotional survival for law enforcement: A guide for officers and their families

You also talk about the isolation that this brings out when after that cycle of living in hypervigilance has gone on within a person for so long, they need that kind of stimulation or at least perceived threat to get stimulation. If they don’t have it, they seem to disconnect from life. The everyday discussions that people might engage in hold no interest for them because they’re living on the edge so often.

It is a matter of biology. The biological reactiveness that law enforcement officers, for example, have to do. Every day it’s this heightened level of physiological, adrenal, cortical-driven perception of the world. What you’re saying happens. They get off-duty and everything else is mundane. I had to write a pre-sentence report on this person that’s going to spend life imprisonment or knocked on the door and there was an armed subject behind the door. I might go home and you’re asking me what color of paint we should use for the kid’s bedroom. I don’t care for me. It’s irrelevant to me.

The fabric of the criminal justice professional’s life off-duty, they unplugged from it because many times they’re low voltage, mundane aspects to life. The other part is they’re doing it in a biological state that’s almost equivalent to depression. When mammals face a threat, the adrenal cortical response engages, blood glucose, blood pressure and heart rate elevate. They face the threat. They perform whatever tasks have to be to survive the task. When they are removed from the threat, the body homeostatically goes in the opposite direction.

Unfortunately, the family and loved ones of the criminal justice professional, of the cop only gets the bottom of this roller coaster. They get the backswing of the pendulum. They end up spending their life with someone detached, apathetic, and indifferent. The only time they get out of that depressed type state is when they go back to work. Getting back to your question on police suicides, we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time talking about the psychological dynamics of suicide, but we haven’t spent nearly enough time talking about the biological components in police officer suicides. The dropping into this profound parasympathetic state of apathy where they isolate from those aspects of life that gives them psychological resiliency.

One series of studies found that in the first ten years of policing, police officers reduced their physical exercise by 50%. They graduate from the Police Academy. This physically fit man or woman who has good dynamic strength, good cardio, can go out and run 10K without any problems. Within ten years, we’ve had an incremental weight gain, we’ve had the officer becoming detached and physically incompetent. The other aspect is there’s also a 50% reduction in church attendance. I use church attendance as an indication of the social congregation. Not only do we reduce church attendance, but we also start finding police officers not attending club meetings. They pull back. They view people from somewhat of a jaundiced eye and so they withdraw from those other social contacts. The only engagement the officer ends up having is in their work role. Their personal life becomes more and more increasingly isolated and depressive as the years go on. That’s a formula for disaster in your personal life.

You mentioned the concept of the magic chair. To me, that sounds like if I’m the spouse of somebody who’s in this cycle, that’s a good diagnostic clue for me to look at.

It is. It’s also generational. I’ll tell you because when we started writing about the magic chair, we were talking about cops that came home from work, plopped in this chair, and by magic, all their blood turned to led. They started surfing through the channels of the television set. As technology has changed and our world has become digital, we don’t even need the magic chair because we can pop out our smartphone and we can disengage from life by burying our nose into social media or surfing through the internet and ignoring what’s taking place around us.

This almost digital addiction plays into the issue and the difficulty with the high-stress jobs. The person escapes the rest of the world by fixating on the device in front of them. We end up with cops that are out dealing with intense situations. They get off-duty and they bury their nose either on the internet or in front of a television set. I had an encounter not long ago. I was doing a seminar and a young police spouse came up to me. There were several hundred people at the conference. She came up and I was speaking and she said, “Dr. Gilmartin, I’m worried about losing my marriage,” and she started crying.

The better the cop is operationally in the field, the more they're at risk emotionally and physically in their personal life. Click To Tweet

I said, “What’s going on?” She goes, “My husband goes to work. He comes home and he gets on the computer. He doesn’t talk. We’ll call him at the dinner table. He’ll eat and then he’ll leave. He’ll just go back into his computer. He’s always playing video games. He’s always looking at the computer. He never talks with the kids and me. When we go to parties, unless they’re police-related parties, he isolates himself in another room. I’m worried I’m going to lose my family.” I said, “Is your husband here at the training?” She goes, “No, the chief of police didn’t make it mandatory. It was optional and he thought it’d be a bunch of junk. He wasn’t going to come to it.” I have no doubt that without intervention, that police family will not survive and we’ll lose another police family. That’s one of the tragic issues of having to practice the officer safety. You go into the heightened level of alertness, then when you come back, you drop into the depression off-duty. It’s that depression that destroys people psychologically, socially, and physically.

There are several different stories like that in your book and a summary of case histories detailing how, when we let down from that hypervigilance, we drop below normal activity into that depressed level. If people don’t understand for themselves as the law enforcement individual or the family member that this is happening, at that physiological level, we attribute it to all kinds of other things like, “She doesn’t love me anymore. He’s not interested in us as a family, etc.” What have you found that’s most beneficial when you see these things turn around?

Education is training. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is. I’ve been in this field for many years. I don’t think we’ve made significant progress in those past decades in helping police officers. We have wonderful professionals available to them. When the officers form a trust relationship with that clinician, they get better. It seems to me that if we rethink the problem, we’ll come up with accurate solutions. For example, there’s a cluster of events that occur. Why do police officers gain significant weight and firefighters don’t?

That’s a question that’s always puzzled me. We know 83% have sleep deficiencies and yet we still ignore that. Anytime somebody is faced with a threat, the body mobilizes its resources to address the threat. The adrenal cortical stress reaction occurs. They have high levels of adrenaline. They perform to survive the threat. That stress reaction is producing a lot of behind the scenes biological reactions that cause depression. Elevated blood glucose on-duty means insulin is infusing glucose into fat cells around the abdominal area to handle a threat so our cops get fat.

They don’t get fat because they eat donuts. They get fat because they have to practice an officers safety and produce adrenaline. They drop into this depressive-like state. That’s what happens after a threat. The pendulum swings from the high left over to the high right. Our officers come home and all their families and loved ones get is the opposite. They get the worst end of the deal, detached, isolated and indifferent. Our police officer now is starting to get incremental weight gain, is starting to get sleep disorder and is entering into the movement towards metabolic disease.

Their glucose levels start being impacted and by the time they’re in their later 40s or early 50s, we have well too high a percentage of Type 2 diabetic police officers with elevated risks of heart disease and stroke. We have premature death syndromes. It all goes back to the same issues that in the early stages of the police career are the need to move into that elevated level of alertness to do the job safely. The better the cop is operationally in the field, the more they’re at risk emotionally and physically in their personal life. We have to do interventions with officers daily and some of the interventions are simple.

For example, with depression, research tells us that walking briskly on a treadmill for twenty minutes a day is as effective in addressing the symptoms of depression as is antidepressant medication. Yet we rarely find police departments that mandate moderate physical activity at the end of each shift for police officers. We know the Center for Disease Control says 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise will reduce Type 2 diabetes by 60% to 70%. Within our law enforcement population, that’s one of the biggest killers of cops. For an investment of 22 minutes a day, we can have a 60% to 70% alleviation of the biggest physical killers of cops. We can treat depression as effectively as if the cops are on antidepressant medication. We’ll still talk about police suicides and we’ll still deal with police marriages ending when there might be one part of a simple solution right in front of us that we’re ignoring.

I’m glad you’re out here trying to help educate people about this. Another critical piece that comes up in your book is how the police officer shifts their sense of identity and how once they’ve done that, it leaves them vulnerable. Can you talk about that?

OYM Kevin | Emotional Survival
Emotional Survival: One of the tragic issues of having to practice officer’s safety is when they go into the heightened level of alertness, then come back with a drop into the depression during off-duty.

 

People are a complex constellation of roles in our life. We might be a mother, a father, a Little League coach, a church member, a cop. There are these multiple portfolios in our life, but what police work requires is a tremendous amount of investment in the police role. In order to stay alive, the cop has to place a lot of emotional energy into that cop role there. They’re at the top of this roller coaster. When they got off-duty, that’s when all those other roles occur.

The role of fishermen, motorcycle rider, baseball coach and those non-work-related roles stop getting invested in. As the years’ progress, the police officer’s professional role as cop starts taking the air out of the room. It starts having 90% of their emotional investment. They don’t say, “I work as a cop.” They say, “I am a cop.” Their identity becomes singularly defined and linked to that cop role, “I am a cop.” The problem with that is mental health requires that we have control over many parts of our life.

The realities of police work are when you’re working as a police officer, you’re working in an authority-based hierarchy where someone further up the command chain controls what you do. You find officers after a decade become extremely resentful of management. They become extremely at odds with the bosses. The reason for that is the bosses control the police role and the police role has become their world. You can set cops into an emotional crisis by making them put a hat on. There’s this huge emotional over-investment of volatility over an issue that isn’t that significant. To the officer, it is because stress is when someone puts high demands on you and they have low control.

I’ll give an example. I can remember speaking with a person that I knew who flew the Blackbird, the SR-71, the supersonic aircraft. I asked him, “How fast did that aircraft fly?” He said, “That aircraft could cruise at 2,400 miles an hour.” I said, “That’s fast. I’d hate to be a passenger in a plane flying that fast.” He goes, “I would never be a passenger in a plane flying that fast. I will fly it, but I’ll never sit by, be a passenger and let somebody else fly it.” That’s what police work is.

The cops put all of their eggs in an emotional basket of a cop, then somebody further up the command chain than them controls the basket. It can be devastating. It’s not disappointments, but their whole life shatters because of that. They become very emotionally vulnerable and very fragile. We will have to have our officers remain well-rounded, flexible members of the community, but that requires dealing with the bottom of that roller coaster and dealing with the aftereffects while they’re in the depressive state and getting them out of the depressive state.

You point out clearly that because it is this bureaucracy-driven system, it’s virtually impossible to be in the system for 15, 20, 25 years without getting screwed somehow.

That’s all a relative term. If I’m the chief of police and you’re one of my officers, I tell you to put a hat on, I’m not screwing with you. I’m telling you to put a hat on. It’s not an emotional decision. If I link emotion to every time someone directs my role, I’m going to think I’m getting screwed constantly. This is one of the big misperceptions of many police officers. You’ll hear police officers say the biggest source of stress in law enforcement is management. I always find myself telling them, “It’s not. The biggest source of stress in law enforcement is management controls things that you’re emotionally over-investing in.” I don’t want you investing emotion in a hat policy. I want you investing emotion in your children, in your marriage and your physical fitness, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.

One of the most difficult aspects that destroys police lives, ironically, is their emotional commitment to the job. This is the paradox that cops start their careers as sprinters, but they’re in the marathon. Everybody is a good cop for 4 or 5 years. At that point from then on, some are emotional survivors and they can maintain that professionalism and their ethics for the rest of their career. Some clearly become emotional victims and they have this angry resentment towards first supervision and then towards the public in general. They are destructive police officers. Usually, if you scratch beneath the surface, they become misguided. They’ve lost the trail somewhere along the way. That’s a failure of the profession and not providing guidance and direction to these officers from the beginning of the career. Few people are apathetic about their policing career. It’s a career of heavy emotional investment and we need to be better able to help those officers know how to get on a journey through this career.

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It’s powerfully written. You’ve got the case history about the officer who has to go on this rotation of working in a jail and doesn’t want to go through that rotation but takes it personally. He is emotionally invested in one thing over the other and the differences between core values and situational values takes over and makes an ugly mess of things. I like the statement you make where the good cop gets angry, it doesn’t show their victim status by going out and doing something wrong. They go out and stop doing something right.

Acts of omission are the first signs police officers are corrupting. When you look at major corruption issues that have affected police departments around our country, and when you scratch beneath the surface, you wonder how did these good cops get tied up in this bad behavior? You almost always find a rationalization of victimness. “They screwed with me, therefore, I will screw with them.” I often think of when I’m teaching classes to cops, sometimes I’ll play a country-western song where a woman is vandalizing her ex-boyfriend’s car.

They’re outside this nightclub. She’s running her key down the side of the guy’s car and slashing up the tires on the car. She can rationalize this because the ex-boyfriend was running around behind her back. She’s been victimized by this ex-boyfriend. She’s able to rationalize criminal damage and vandalism, which ultimately gets her arrested. Good cops do this quite frequently. You’re going to make me wear a hat when I step out of the car, fine. Screw you. I won’t step out of the car. You’ll see a disengagement from activity.

Some of our major cities have had significant increases in homicide rates because the cops take a knee, they don’t engage. They’ll say, “You’re never going to get in trouble for the traffic stop you didn’t make.” They pull back. Unfortunately, when we permit cops to see themselves as the emotional victims, all of society loses. We have to see cops as vibrant members of the community who are doing a difficult job. I think this is one of the most difficult times that I’ve ever seen in being a police officer. It’s almost open season on police officers in terms of media attacks, accusations. Every social ill and injustice that exists in American society, we get to blame the police officer for. There appears to be nobody championing the men and women of policing. They’re trying to solve the cases, unsolvable social issues.

I couldn’t agree more. The whole process of blame, I often tell people I’ve never seen blame lead to a productive or constructive resolution to a problem. Anyone can become a scapegoat and we can scapegoat anyone. One of the things I like about your book is that by the time you get to Chapter 8, you’re starting to talk about how to become an emotional survivor. You’re giving some practical steps. The difficulty is education. What have you learned about what’s the best way to get this education started or dispersed into law enforcement departments?

If I were king for the day and I could wave a magic wand over the police world and implement some training, the first thing that I would do is I would implement training in emotional survival for police officers at least once a year throughout their career. It would incorporate training for their family members. Having these officers take a look at how their career has changed them. There are some projects around the country that are doing some interesting and innovative things with their police officers.

One department sits down and videotapes their officer in a discussion and asks a series of questions. They capture this on video. They come back at the five-year point, ask the same questions, have the same discussion again, and then compare them. They do it at the 10 and 15-year point every five years and that they’re doing this for several years. The officer gets to see how they have changed. Putting an emphasis on this and not paying lip service to it, not having some type of employee assistance program that wins the contract because they were the low bid entity.

Having men and women who are dedicated to understanding criminal justice professionals and are truly have a passion for helping them. We’re starting to see professionals such as yourself, whose career began in the criminal justice field and now you’re a psychologist. We start to have this cadre of cop docs that are out there who are law enforcement professionals, but they’re serving the cops from a behavioral sciences perspective now. Increasing that emphasis would be the first step that I would implement.

OYM Kevin | Emotional Survival
Emotional Survival: One of the most difficult aspects that destroys police lives, ironically, is their emotional commitment to the job.

 

If I continued in my reign as king of police of the police world, every police officer, every dispatcher, every probation officer would have 0.5 hours a day of mandatory physical fitness training for every shift that they work. It wouldn’t be optional. It would be mandatory. It would deal with undoing the damage of hypervigilance, undoing this cardiovascular issue that kills police officers. When you produce adrenaline because of stress, you start infusing glucose that causes into the fat cells. It causes after some time insulin resistance which leads to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It’s predictable progression and it’s easy to derail and we would certainly do that. I would also start looking at mandatory sleep hygiene training. We do far too little to deal with the issues of sleep deprivation and decision-making. What I’m saying is I would take the survival of our police officers and push it to the front burner, not some ancillary backburner, window dressing approach. We would take it seriously.

I was glad to hear you say in the beginning there that you would include the families and spouses. There’s such a tremendous benefit in my work with people when I can get the spouse to understand that what he or she is experiencing from the law enforcement person is not being caused by a deficit in the spouse.

Many times, I’m asked to speak at police graduations. They’re graduating from the Police Academy. I’ll be sitting up there on the stage, watching all the pomp and circumstance and the stuff that’s going on. The chief is talking. They’re introducing a new class of police officers who take their oath of office. They’re issued their badge. You’re a keynote speaker. You’re supposed to come up and in fifteen minutes, drop some pearls of wisdom on them. As I sit and I look at the audience, I’m always reflecting on these young families because they’re typically young men and women in their 20s and 30s. They have young families.

Many times, their significant other is sitting out in the audience with their children. Many times, they’re still being in a child carrier. What I reflect on is I say, “You better say something to try to preserve this family.” This young couple right here is sharing their life and they love each other but you know from your years of working in this field that the majority of them are going to go their separate ways. Not because they don’t love each other, but because they’re going to engage in a life that they’re going to grow apart from each other one day at a time. Say something that’ll wake them up to that concept and have them share their life each day so they’re investing in themselves so that we can preserve these families. Having the families involved are important.

I was doing a class in a major city, not long ago, and I’m getting ready for the class to begin the morning. An older police officer walks up to me, probably in his mid-40s. He has a whole stack of those books that we’re talking about, the Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement book. He goes, “Dr. Gilmartin, can I impose upon you, sir? Would you do me the honor of signing these for me?” I said, “It’d be my honor. Who can I make them out to?” He looks at me and he goes, “My ex-wives.” I said, “Your ex-wives,” plural? He goes, “Yeah, I have three of them. I refer to them as P1, P2 and P3 for Plaintiff 1, Plaintiff 2 and Plaintiff 3 because they’re always suing me.” I said, “They’re going to get a class action suit against you.” I think he’s being lighthearted, but then I realized he’s not being lighthearted. I said, “Do you want me to sign books for your ex-wives?” He goes, “Yeah, I do.” I said, “Can I ask you why? I’ve never been asked to do that before. I’ve never had that request. Why do you want to sign books for your ex-wives?”

He goes, “I want to say I’m sorry. I want to say that our divorces were 100% my fault. I’ve ruined the marriages, they didn’t. I don’t want them feeling that it was some shortfall or some shortcoming on their behalf. I’ve ruined three good marriages. I want to say I’m sorry to them and give them closure.” I stopped at this point. This is starting to scare me because it sounds like a cop who’s contemplating closing up shop. We might have some self-destructive behavior taking place. I said, “You just want to get closure on these relationships?” He goes, “Yeah. I’m blessed. I had three good women come into my life and agree to be my life partner. I started families three times. I screwed it up three times. I want to say I’m sorry.”

I’m sitting here feeling uncomfortable with this and I signed the third book. I said, “There’s a fourth book. Who’s this for?” He goes, “It’s for my wife. I brought my wife with me.” I said, “Number four?” He goes, “No, number one. This is the first marriage that I’m an active participant in. This marriage is still death do us part. Doc, after my third divorce, I was depressed, I was down. I went to the Employee’s Assistance Program and they put me into a support group with other cops. We started discussing things and they gave us a pile of books to read, one of which was yours, one of which I Love a Cop by Ellen Kirschman, several other books. For the first time in my life, I started understanding what was going on. I don’t live my life the way I used to live it. I’m an active member of this marriage. I love those other women, but I was not an active member because I didn’t know what was going on.”

He said something, he goes, “Doctor, I learned this the hard way. Why the heck do we make the young cops learn it the hard way? Why can’t we facilitate the learning curve and give them some information to save some of these police families? Why can’t we do that?” I said, “You’re preaching to the choir here, son. That’s what we’re trying to get done. That’s why we’re doing this seminar now.” It amazes me how much wisdom our cops have who have lived this course, but they get that wisdom by the time they’re in their 50s and many times it’s cost them families, but most of the time it’s cost them their health. Many times, they’re fighting these diseases of adaptation that shortened their life expectancy. It is a failure experience for the cop or when we can make it a successful experience with a little bit of intervention.

Acts of omission are the first signs police officers are corrupting. Click To Tweet

I know that from the back of the book it says EmotionalSurvival.com is your website. Are you in the process of rewriting this or some other book?

We’re trying to tie-in for the police officers some information that when a police officer practices officer’s safety and they have that elevated level of alertness. Biologically, they have to undo that at the end of each shift or it leads to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and illness later in life. It has to be addressed. It’s the stress reaction. It’s the same thing bears go through before hibernation. The threat of winter is coming on. The bear has a surge of adrenaline. It pushes the blood glucose into the fat cells around the abdominal area and the bear lives off these fat cells throughout the winter during hibernation.

That’s a basic biological stress reaction. Cops have the same stress reaction. Cops have constant secretion of adrenaline. Firefighters don’t. They have it only when they’re working a fire. That’s why women buy calendars of firefighters. They don’t buy calendars of cops. Nobody wants to get a calendar of cops with their shirts off. What would you call a calendar of cops with their shirts off? It’s badges and bellies or something because the cops infuse glucose in the abdominal area. It’s not donuts. It’s adrenaline. We can undo that with minimal intervention. If every cop in the world gave themselves 22 minutes a day of moderate exercise, it would knock the ball out of the park in terms of the prevention of diabetes, stroke and heart disease, as well as depression, which leads to the suicides.

Thank you for your time. The book has positively affected the work I do with clients who are either the spouse of law enforcement or law enforcement people. I am looking forward to the rewrite when you get it done. I greatly thank you for the work you’re doing and for taking the time to interview with me.

Thank you. It’s been my honor to speak with you. Keep up the good work in helping our first responders and their families.

OYM Kevin | Emotional Survival
Emotional Survival: The biggest source of stress in law enforcement is management controls, things that you’re emotionally over-investing in.

 

We’ll do what we can. Thank you, sir.

Thank you.

Dr. Kevin Gilmartin is a Behavioral Scientist specializing in law enforcement and public safety issues. He is the author of the book, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement: A Guide for Officers and Their Families. He spent many years working in law enforcement in Tucson, Arizona. During his tenure, he supervised the hostage negotiations team and the behavioral sciences unit. He is a former recipient of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Parade Magazine, National Police Officer Citation Award for Contributions During Hostage Negotiations. He maintains a consulting relationship with public safety and law enforcement agencies in the US, Canada, and Australia. The Department of Justice, FBI, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, New South Wales Police and International Association of Chiefs of Police have published his work. He holds a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona. He is a veteran of the US Marine Corps and resides in Tucson, Arizona and Sunriver, Oregon.

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About Kevin Gilmarten, Ph.D.

OYM Kevin | Emotional SurvivalDr. Gilmartin is a behavioral scientist specializing in law enforcement and public safety related issues. He is the author of the book Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement: A Guide for Officers and Their Families. He previously spent twenty years working in law enforcement in Tucson, Arizona. During his tenure he supervised the Hostage Negotiations Team and the Behavioral Sciences Unit. He is a former recipient of the International Association of Chiefs of Police-Parade Magazine, National Police Officer Citation Award for contributions during hostage negotiations. He presently maintains a consulting relationship with public safety and law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada and Australia.

The Department of Justice, FBI, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, New South Wales Police and International Association of Chiefs of Police have published his work. He holds a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and resides in Tucson, Arizona and Bend, Oregon.

 

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