I worked for four and a half years  as a state probation officer in five rural counties so I worked very closely with officers in the field and I worked nine and a half years in the Hamilton County Jail with officers in a correctional facility. They all have one thing in common. They all work with very defiant and dangerous individuals. These individuals hate those that have a badge. The badge represents authority and criminals hate authority. Most of them cannot relate to authority.

Even in a correctional facility you find officers at great risk. More than fifteen years ago the best Christian officer that I know was beaten brutally with large keys that open cells. He had some brain damage, but he never had malice toward inmates and even witness to them about his Christian faith. I know two other officers who were beaten by inmates and were never able to come back to work.

Officers in the field operate under an   ominous dark cloud of fear that looms over them that today may be my last day on earth. I always feel for the officer who stops a car and is walking toward that car very vulnerable and defenseless. He is a open target for those in the car, who have been stopped. Many have been shot and killed in that kind of circumstances.

In our world today in Chattanooga there has been a lot of police related shootings that has created a greater animosity toward police officers and we have so many individuals that have guns that I fear for the safety of police officers. We have so many gang members that have guns and hate male authority. Many of them are raised in a matriarch home where the mother is the final authority. They have what I call is a drive-by father, who isn't apart of their life. Therefore, the police officer becomes an object of scorn and hatred, because he represent authority.

The biggest challenge for police officers today is a phenomen called police-assisted-suicide. Recently the Hamilton County Sheriff Department had several episodes where mental health clients attempted to provoke these officers to assist them in their suicide attempts. But the officers's mental health training and professionalism prevented them from assisting.Their professional response  made me proud that I retired from an law enforcement agency of such professional caliber.

On the other hand,  another law enforcement agency in this area assisted mental health clients in having success in their suicide efforts. Many individuals in the community considered that the police assistance as being an overkill!  I am convinced that this all happen because of lack of mental health training, insufficent supervision, lack of professionalism, and I have observed that this particular law enforcement agency has a
Rambo-like approach in dealing with criminals. I think that they believe it is a tough-like approach that is appropriate-not so! 

Unfortunately, they don't understand that this kind of approach is very unprofessional and creates a greater animosity and utter contempt for police officers in the community!  Who can respect an overkill? 

But in all fairness, I wonder what I would do if I had a gun pointed at me even though I knew that the individual was a mental health client. I would like to believe that I would have discharged my weapon to disable the mental health client and I definitely wouldn't have discharged my gun multiple times!

Another major problem for policemen today is that many have
gone to either Iraq or Afghastain and returned as victims of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is an anxiety disorder that is marked by painful and poweful memories.

They are haunted by flashbacks that reminds them of the traumatic events that they faced in a Combat Zone.  Both the fear of death "hovering" over them and the constant violence that they saw were horrible and powerful memories that they buried in their subconscious to keep them from having a mental breakdown. It developes after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include personal assults, natural or human caused diasters, accident, or military combat.

People with PTSD have persistent frighting thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotional numb, especially with people they were once close to. They may experience
sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily detached.

They are often plagued by guilt, both true and false, about what they may have done or not done while in combat.  These soldiers survived in combat by "shutting" down emotionally.  Unfortunely when they come home they will "shut down" emotionally with loved ones. They are prone to being violence even with loved ones. Many of them will use alcohol and drugs to numb the pain that they have internalized.

In performing their duties as a police officer in the field or as a  correction officer in a correctional facility they will be exposed
to dangerous suitations that can lead to them being overwhelmed as it could trigger flashbacks from their time in combat.  If they haven't been treated for PTSD then they could have an emotional or mental breakdown.

The Chattanooga Police Department named Mickel Hobart "Officer of the Year" in 2007.  Two years later, the Iraq war veteran was fired for having post-traumatic stress disorder.

Recently Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton's of Hamilton County Chancery Court ordered Chattanooga to give him his job back with back pay. I say, praise God for the grave injustice that was reversed by the court.

A seperate 1.5 million dollar federal lawsuit could bring the US. Department of Labor into the case to prosecute Chattanooga for violating the  Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Act according to Phillip Lawrence, Hoback's attorney in both suits. The law among other things, covers cilivian employment conduct concerning miltary personnell.

It is my earnest prayer and hope that the city of Chattanooga will be penalized and have to pay out the 1.5 million dollars for their gross disrespect and the mental and emotional injuries that they inflicted on this decorated officer, who had been in treatment for more than two years for his condition of PTSD. He was addressing his condition which is in contrast to most victims of PTSD, who will not deal with their condition except to self-medicate it with drugs and alcohol.

One of the most dangerous
  time for a police officer is when they are caught off guard by what is routine and appears non-threatening. Officer Julie Jacks was killed when she was trying to retrieve a mental health patient running down the street in a hospital gown. Officer Donald Bond was checking out a vehicle at a fruit stand in the early morning. That which was routine and appearing to be non-threatening became the most dangerous and final moments in their life. 

Most officers are well trained and thrive on being a professional officer. Unfortunatly, some officers love the adrenaline that they get in high speed car chase and restraining someone in a physical manner. Therefore, they create situations where they can be aggressive and violence.  I have seen that happen both in the field and in institutional setting.  I think that they rationalize that criminals deserve to get punished, because the court gives them too many chances to commit new crimes.  When an officers gets to that level then they are on the same level as a criminal.

The biggest temptation for an officer in the field is dealing with seductive women and especially those who are female teenagers, who are ready to have sex with a man who has a badge. An officer should never interview them behind closed doors or in an isolated area.  Keep them out of the patrol car unless there is a witness. Three minutes of sex can cost them their career and their family.

Recently, a veteran officer in our area was fired because he had sex in his patrol car with people in the neighborhood where the car was parked aware of what they were doing. This officer compound his grave mistake by having sex with a married woman and it was her husband, who reported it!

Recently, a SRO officer in one of the high schools was charged with statutory raping a 16 year adolescent. This particular girl was one with a lot of problems and this officer made a genuine effort to help her.  This girl overly depended on this officer and they developed an unhealthy intimacy that turned into a sexual relationship.

I know this officer personally and I was shocked that this, allegedly,  happen to him. He would be the last officer that I would have suspected to be involved, sexually, with a 16 girl!  Beware!!!

The worst kind of officer that I have personal observe both in the  institutional setting and in the field is a power and control person, who dares anyone to challenge their authority. They enforce their power and authority with violent. One police chief in a rural county told me personally many years ago that when he puts on his gun and his badge and looks in the mirror that he would get an sexual erection. He had a strong sense of power and authority that was strange and wrong.

Many officers who are power and control individuals will engage in domestic violence. The power and authority will distort their reality and they will physically hurt anyone who challenges their authority  which includes family members.

Fair to say, there are many other individuals, who are power and control individuals especially preachers, who engage in religious abuse by using the Bible to justify their violence and their using their  position to engage in power and control.  They act like that the church is their kingdom. Their motto is: "My way or the highway." They are not a shepard, but instead they are cattle drivers or what Jesus called hirelings. They are a disgrace to the ministry and they are like a policeman, who tarnishs their badge, because they abuse their power and authority! 

 I also think that politician get deceived by their position and power. Therefore, they  become power and control individuals. Men who batter women are also power and control individuals.  They all have one thing in common:  They are a very insecure person!                           
Under Chaplain's corner are three letters written by a former police officer and detective who was sexually abused as a child!  His name remains confidential.                                      

                                                Rev. Bill W. Smith
                                                Retired Chaplain of the 
                                                Hamilton County Jail


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