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Change isn't just that jingling in your pocket…

As someone who was immersed in the law enforcement culture, I saw some sufficiently horrible things that will likely stay with me until the day that I die.  Some things that, despite being warned I might see, I could never truly prepare for.  Still other things for which I was completely unprepared.  But in hindsight (and with a copious amount of introspection), I feel like I’m able to look back on my time contemplatively and see where improvements could have been made, both in myself and in my organization.  I made mistakes, of course, but I’m human, aren’t I?  And speaking from experience having a front row seat with more people than I’d care to remember shuffling off their mortal coil, I can say that I won’t truly know what MY regrets are until I knock on the door myself.  But I endeavor to try and “head them off at the pass” by continuing to examine both my history and my daily impact on the world.

But I digress.  I’m not writing this as some cathartic exercise to cleanse my spirit (okay, maybe a little).  I’m writing it because I think the community can do better.  Listening to all the rumblings about defunding the police and all of the necessary reforms, mostly from people who have absolutely no idea what it’s like to wear the uniform and the sacrifices that the good men and women in blue make on a daily basis, I find myself motivated by the desire to stand up for my former colleagues in hopes that I can make their jobs easier while at the same time satisfy the undereducated masses. 

I will be the first one to tell you that police officers are put into many different situations, some of which can turn volatile at the drop of a hat.  Situations that start out innocuous and give absolutely no indication that they are about to morph into incredibly impactful and life altering circumstances that affect more than just the people experiencing them at the time.  Police officers do their best to train for the worst possible scenarios in an effort to “be prepared for anything.”  But that being said, there are still some situations for which they are unprepared.  You see, law enforcement is not exactly on the cutting edge when it comes to mental health.  They have a hard enough time navigating the stigma of not reaching out for help with their own struggles.  But departments want these officers to step into unstable mental health situations and make assessments, utilizing only the law enforcement specific mentality with which they have been trained?  Where is the logic in that?

Some of the “solutions” about which I’ve been hearing are that counselors and therapists should be the ones utilized in these situations but I can definitively say (with as much or more “authority” than you will get from any of these so-called “experts”) that that would lead to more deaths than it would avoid, most of which would be the counselors and therapists themselves.  They have neither the training nor the mentality to deal with those highly explosive situations when they are at their apex.  It is at this time, that the public (like it or not) would be glad to have that which they have uneducatedly lambasted in the past.

But knowing that with the identification of 10,000 problems there should be an attempt toward at least one solution, I realize as I write this, the many follies and objections that will inevitably come with it.  First things first.  If there is a list of priorities that get applied to each and every situation that law enforcement (or any other necessary entity) steps into, the safety of the public and the officers comes first.  Priority number one every single time.  It supersedes every other “goal” during the aforementioned situations.  And unfortunately, because of the volatility I mentioned earlier, it can change at a moment’s notice (safety ALWAYS stays at the top of the list).   

So, let’s imagine a scenario where someone is suicidal, threatening their life, and the life of anyone who comes close to them, with a gun.  They live in an apartment, perhaps with a family (that’s present) but at minimum with other tenants close enough to be in harm’s way.  Although a person with some manner of therapeutic skill would certainly be helpful in this situation, the primary concern is the safety of the individual and all those who could potentially be harmed by the weapon in their possession.  Primary means that which needs to be taken care of FIRST before anything else can happen.  And to bring another person into this dynamic is not only dangerous (you’re welcome public) but stupid.  

So therein lies the quandary.  

You see, police officers are qualified to deal with the primary concern mentioned above because they religiously and repetitiously train for just such an occasion.  But they do so with only the primary concern in mind.  They have neither the time, the inclination, nor the qualifications and training to deal with the mental health aspects of what is transpiring out there in the world.  Keep in mind this is a culture that sees the worst the world has to offer and makes socially acceptable a “hero mentality” whereby they can help everyone else but themselves and society wants to sit on their couches and judge their behavior?  It’s no surprise that drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, and suicide rates are exponentially higher in this community.  I know this all too well. 

So, what do we do?  I think the body camera is a great idea.  But instead of using it as a means with which to crucify an officer in the comfort of some safe place, post-incident, by people that have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT (the ONLY people qualified to make judgements about an officer’s behavior should be a jury of his/her PEERS), it should be used as a real-time feed for the therapeutic professional to provide relevant and competent feedback for active situations.  The camera gets activated?  So does the therapist.  The priority of safety first will never change.  But as a former officer who always wondered how it came to be that I was able to place an individual under a psychiatric hold, even though I didn’t have the qualifications to do so (I had an undergraduate degree in psychology so I was more qualified than most), it would behoove all entities involved to incorporate the professional that CAN (safely) make that decision.

Maybe if there had been a therapeutic voice in the ears of Derek Chauvin or one of the other surrounding officers, a senseless death could have been avoided.

Just maybe…..

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Meet your Poster Donn Bradley

When you figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.  I was put on this planet to help people, though you might not be able to glean that from the story.  Born in the Northwest but steeped a country boy, my journey hasn't just been geographical.  I have been on a quest to redefine what it means to be a man.  I'm a former police officer turned therapist who believes that if you have the capability, you have the responsibility.  When I knew...really KNEW, what I was put on this planet to do, it lit a fire stoked every day with every experience (positive and negative).  This may sound like fertilizer, but I'm going to change the world.  Not for some egotistical drive to become famous, but because I have to.....WE have to.  It's a world that needs changing and the only way it's going to is if we believe we should and we believe we can.
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Meet your Sharer Denise Doe

Dear Reader: I am extremely passionate about: family and the importance of letting family members know that they are loved, cherished, and can achieve whatever they dream regardless of their gender; ecological and sustainable, community-based rough diamond mining and gold mining in the Republic of Liberia, West Africa; health and wellness as it relates to strengthening the immunity and helping women and men cope with the swings in weight gain and weight loss due to flawed diet systems; and helping people work from anywhere in 100% legitimate online work-from-home opportunities within the ever-growing gig economy.   Let's start with what may be a screaming question in the minds of some of my readers: How did I get into mining? The short answer is, by default. You see, my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were all rough diamond miners in the same region and town I seasonally mine in today in Liberia. Sounds glamorous, but you would not believe the heartache and struggle these women endured!   I started my work life when I was a 12-year-old in Liberia. My jobs were doing the filing and office work for my dad part-time and working the cash register in the small cosmetics department of my aunt's supermarket the rest of the time during summer holidays.   There were no child labor laws in Liberia at the time. Even though they exist on paper today, Liberia, much like many Third World countries, does painfully little to enforce the rights of children, women, land occupiers and owners, the underserved, and the socially abandoned. No one can draw attention to and right these wrongs but us!   For example, when I was a 5 or 6-year-old, I told my dad that I wanted to be an "international business woman." Yes, it was quite an announcement! I remember thinking obsessively about it before I finally plucked up the courage to make my very important announcement.   The reason for even thinking about international business at that tender age was because my dad sold hard woods from the forests of Liberia to buyers in far regions of the globe. I must admit, I had a privileged and idyllic childhood.   In my young, newly-formed mind, it seemed perfectly natural to want to be just like my father. However, I soon learned that I was a girl and then I learned what it meant to be a girl. This cruel new revelation absolutely crushed my dreams. When I was told that because I was a girl, I was not allowed to travel with my dad up-country to his logging site, I felt like some mysterious  villain had just let the air out of my beloved balloon before my very eyes.   I wish it ended there! It didn't. Next, I was told that only my (obviously disinterested) older brother was allowed to go with my dad to the bush. Make no mistake, it took a little time for me to suck in some air after this sudden shock. Amazingly, I never let this nor many other ensuing injustices keep me down for long. By eight, I had a t-shirt to prove it that said, "I can beat any boy on the block!"   For various and similar reasons, working in corporate America reminded me of being a "girl" in Liberia. Except this time, I was a "black woman." I'll elaborate more in a later blog. For now, let's just say that I didn't get to fast-track my way through college in Ohio like my parents and some teachers planned.   Once again, fate had other plans for yours truly. As a 20-year-old first semester senior, the bloodiest civil war in the history of Liberia was well under way. What's more, the repercussions of the war would not end for me for another 22 years, as this was when I finally got to go back to my beloved Liberia.   During the gruesome war, my father was put under house arrest and his business was destroyed, albeit no less than the entire nation. To my naïve surprise, my college tuition was back-burnered indefinitely. Warring Liberia did not care that I had a 3.67 GPA; proofread college papers for many of my friends (who did end up graduating); and was on track to graduate that year with double Bachelors of Arts in English and Fine Arts.   Undaunted in 2011, after years of working in corporate America, I finally walked the stage with a Bachelor of Science in Business. A few years later in 2013 and after years of insisting that I come back to Liberia by my mother, I went back to Liberia for a second time.   The bloody coup and later civil war (a timeframe from 1980 to 1997 with a few breaks in between) were finally over. Mom wanted help mining and needed my continuing financial support, which began in 1995 when she was in exile as a refugee in the Ivory Coast. Tragically, cancer claimed her life just six months later on June 21, 2014 at 5:55 PM.   Crucially, my mother was always encouraging me to follow my dreams. She was not rich in finances, but she was a billionaire in support and belief in me. Her blinding light of absolute love for my brother and I has never been absent in our entire lives.   A few months later, the 2014 Ebola crisis began waging its own war on the lives of Liberians. I remained in Liberia throughout the crisis and volunteered my time to help create awareness about the virus. I actively participated in the effort of government leaders and officials to craft many simple direct messaging public awareness campaigns. The diverse and underserved populations received these messages by radio, billboards, television, and word-of-mouth. The messages were in their various dialects, so they could quickly understand Ebola and how they could implement measures to save their lives.   Locally, in our mining community, I held meetings with local leaders and influencers to make sure that every man, woman, and child understood how the virus was transmitted. I used the network of the government's regional and local mining agents to spread the message to the underserved local migrant and permanent mine workers about: hand sanitation and hygiene; vigilance about strangers entering towns and villages who also had to wash their hands and receive temperature checks for signs of fever; social distancing; and how to recognize Ebola virus symptoms.   My efforts in the interior occurred over a month before the national government could send tracers and trainers out to villages. As a U.S. citizen and active member of Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/step.html), I received Ebola alerts over a month before any word got out to the cities and the bush.   As a result of this and the efforts of many brave and persistent Liberians throughout the nation--some of whom lost their lives to the virus--our local mining community and the county as a whole recorded zero cases from the transmission of the Ebola virus during the crisis. The few "suspect cases" were caught at checkpoints and reported to the heathcare tracers as infected people migrating to less populated areas from the capital of Monrovia or elsewhere within nation.   Fast-forward to today and the #SARSCoV2 global landscape that's forever changing our world and planet in ways we cannot yet comprehend fully. Immunity, community, support, work-from-home jobs, trust, and caring are the urgent themes in our new normal. I want to make a lasting difference that I can be proud of and can share with everyone who wants to listen.   Let's make a lasting difference together by supporting the abused, the poor, the homeless, the essential, and non-essential workers with everything we have to offer.   Thank you for reading my bio, #staysafe and #stayathome.   Sincerely, Denise Doe

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  1. When you try to stand on both sides of the fence, Michael, the barbed wire will do quite a number on your undercarriage. You can’t have it both ways (“Granted, most officers are good officers.” vs “seemingly high percentage of bad officers”). I would love to see the citation you used that in any way validates the “seemingly high percentage of bad officers,” otherwise it’s just an ignorant statement.

  2. Times change. Would the police force of 100 years ago work in today’s society? No. Does the police force or 40 years ago work into today’s society? Obviously not. The only constant is change with the exception perhaps of police mentality. Granted, most officers are good officers. However, innocent people die because of the seemingly high percentage of bad officers.

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