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My book review..."Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement."


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  • My book review..."Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement."

    A short time ago, I made a post titled "Skepticism, Complacency and Acts of Omission." Basically my attitude had become one of "why do I do this job?" Chaplain Keppy suggested I read this book and the suggestion was made I write a review about it so here it is!

    The first thing I noticed about the book is that it's short...142 Pages. The chapters are short, the longest being 40 pages so the book is very reader friendly. I flipped through the book and noticed that in each chapter, there are some paragraphs and sentences highlighted in the margins that are very good at summing up the "point" to each chapter.The book was written by Kevin Gilmartin PHD. who was also an officer for 20 years..so it's written by somebody who has "been there."

    The book addresses the issue of "emotional survival," how to emotionaly survive this job. Gilmartin gives very scary statistics on the number of officers killed by suicide. Frankly, it's a LOT more than are killed by the bad guys. This raises a very good question....why is the issue of emotional survival not given the attention that "street survival" is given? Considering that potential officers are "screened" for their psychological well being, why are so many committing suicide?

    Gilmartin believes it's because so few are really prepared for the emotional impact this job will have on their lives. Few, if any, officers are prepared for the effects of being "proactive" all day at work only to go home where he/she doesn't have to do anything. Gilmartin explains that this "rollercoaster" leads to officers becoming lazy and anti-social. We have to be "on the go" all day at work. When we get home, we don't want to be..we want to "relax." So things that used to matter...church, fitness, friends, family...become less and less important. The irony is the less we do outside of work, the more we identify with work. Work becomes the only place we can be "ourselves," which isn't the "us" we used to be.

    He also points out how officers become complacent and cynical because of gripes with their department, other officers, and the public. This is where we say (or hear other officers say) "If they don't give a s**t why should I?" We become less and less focused on our personal values and put more emphasis on the unfairness of not getting promoted, or having to work an overnight shift, or getting called in on overtime. We "give away our power" by focusing on things beyond our control instead of doing our best with what we are given. Eventually, the enthusiastic cops we were become the disgruntled veteran I'm sure most of us know!

    Gilmartin does give advice for how to overcome these feelings, but you'll have to read the book!

    Do I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY! There were many times during the reading of it that I said,"hey, that's me talking!" I can honestly say that now that i have the "emotional survivor" mindset, my enthusiasm for work has returned! People have already noticed I seem much happier again. My work productivity (particularly traffic stops) has improved. I'm making more efforts to find things to do outside of work to stay active instead of vegging on the computer or in front of the tv. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

    Do yourself and your family and friends and co-workers a favor and read this book. I really liked it and highly recommend it.

    Formerly disgruntled,


  • #2
    Thanks for sharing your insight, Sam3!

    It was an "Aha!" book for me, too-- and I found it empowering. It gives very practical, doable advice. I think any LEO could benefit from this book, whether a rookie or an old buffalo.
    We do not all come to religion over the wandering years,
    but sooner or later we all get to meet God. -- Edward Conlon


    • #3
      If you think the book is good, you should meet Kevin in person. If I had had problems after my "incident", he's the guy I would have trusted and gone to!
      "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
      John Stuart Mill


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