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December 20, 2013
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Olivia Johnson Peer Support
with Olivia Johnson

10 ways to help a fellow officer injured in the line of duty

Too many times when a fellow-officer is injured in the line of duty, many of us fail to really support them. I don’t say this to place blame or point fingers — the idea here is to learn to do better and to try harder to maintain the brotherhood and sisterhood of our injured officers. 

This should start with department leadership, and include everyone in the organization. There are several ways you can keep an injured officer in the loop. Try sending a squad out once a week to the home. A few minutes spent catching up can make a world of difference to the emotional state of an officer who no longer gets to interact like this. 

What can you do to get involved? Here are 10 ideas you can use to reach out to fellow injured officers. Levels of injury will differ — there are some suggestions specifically for catastrophically injured officers, others for officers whose injuries are not as severe. 

1.)    Don’t offer to mow the yard or rake leaves, just do it
2.)    During bad weather, keep sidewalks and driveways clear
3.)    Offer to run to the store or to pick up prescriptions
4.)    Coordinate with others to supply meals occasionally
5.)    Offer to take children to school and extracurricular activities
6.)    Offer to walk pets
7.)    Breaks are definitely necessary for caregivers. Offer to stay and visit so they can go out for a much needed break — obviously, medical issues will need to be addressed
8.)    If feasible, take your fellow officer out to a movie, comedy club, or dinner — make sure to find out what is needed to do this and don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. 
9.)    Anniversary dates of the injury can be extremely difficult, so sending a card, making a call, or sending a small gift just to say that you have not forgotten might mean a lot — reach out beforehand to see how the officer and the family are doing
10. )   Not everyone has family, so especially reach out during the holidays — this can be a very overwhelming time of year for many

Not all of these will work for you and some may not be feasible, but they are suggestions to spur your own thoughts on the subject. 

Remember: cops — and their spouses — are often too proud to ask for help. They’re used to doing everything for themselves. With that being said, we must reach out. Sometimes, a family member will tell you what might be most helpful. Sometimes we may just do things without asking.

Above all, remember that brotherhood and sisterhood matter — never forget a fellow officer.


About the author

Dr. Olivia Johnson holds a master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Missouri, St. Louis and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership Management from the University of Phoenix – School of Advanced Studies. Perseverance in raising awareness to officer wellness resulted in her being named the Illinois State Representative and Board Member for the National P.O.L.I.C.E. Suicide Foundation. This role led to her being invited to speak at the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit’s 2010 – Beyond Survival Toward Officer Wellness (BeSTOW) Symposium. 

Dr. Johnson is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a former police officer. She collaborates with several law enforcement publications and is a columnist for PoliceOne.com. She was recently asked to lead the peer support section with Crisis Systems Management, where she trains Military and Law Enforcement personnel worldwide on Critical Incident Peer Support (CIPS) and Law Enforcement Resiliency – Peer Support (LERPS). 

Dr. Johnson and the Blue Wall Institute have partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to bring The Balanced Warrior: Proactive Officer Wellness class online. Recent speaking engagements include: FBI National Academy Associates Conference 2013, International Association of Chiefs of Police [IACP] Conference 2013, National Interdiction Conference 2013, Midwest Security & Police Conference 2012, and the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association [ILEETA] 2012. 

For further information on the Blue Wall Institute and Dr. Olivia Johnson, visit  www.BW-Institute.com.

Contact Olivia Johnson





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