Anonymous and K-9 Lucy
I don’t like to talk about myself very much, so this is hard to write. I worked as a Police Officer for 24 years in a large metro department, ending as a Sergeant.
I joined shortly after graduating college. When I started my career, I was surrounded by a great team. We had some hard calls, but we were able to debrief together. I felt like despite the difficulties and danger, I was doing something meaningful with my life and making the community better. But the last three years of my time were the worst. The number of suicides I responded to; the endless line of bodies just ground me down. A shooting of a mother and her children murdered by their father. These images began to pop into my mind many times a day and wouldn’t leave. I coped by burying them as much as I could like we all do.
And then the riots of 2020 came. We were working 20+ hour days on a difficult line with violence and threats coming at us constantly. We would finish our extended shifts and be expected to be back holding that line less than 6 hours later, for days and days. Then more skirmishes and upheaval of our world, no support, no backup, no relief for weeks on end.
All of those bodies, all the death and destruction became too much. The act of putting on my uniform and belt was an almost insurmountable act and the feeling of dread that that shift would be the one that ended badly became too much. I was having nightmares frequently, waking up screaming in the night. Flinching when a bird would fly past because I thought it was a projectile being thrown at me and having flashbacks, losing my temper like the flip of a switch, unable to concentrate and withdrawing.
Through counseling, I have begun to feel better but when I am away from home, I feel anxious and apprehensive and I am hopeful that training my dog will allow me to feel less anxious. Thank you to Soldier 6 for giving me hope for a better future.