If you love someone who works in law enforcement, you are part of a very special extended family, the “blue family.” If your loved one has chosen law enforcement as a career, along with the pride you might feel toward that family member, there is often concern and worry for their well-being in what is a dangerous profession. If you met your spouse or significant other before he/she became involved in law enforcement, once you began to understand that you were diving into a whole different world, you might have asked yourself, “Did I really sign up for this?” In whatever way you became part of the law enforcement family, the one you love commonly faces significant challenges associated with that choice of career. We acknowledge that their choice affects you profoundly as well, so we dedicate this handbook to you to assist you to not only survive but thrive throughout your loved one’s law enforcement career.
What are the needs of the Law Enforcement Community?
A great deal has been written about the challenges of law enforcement in the 21st century. Much of it is focused on dealing more effectively with issues from terrorism and civil unrest to social media and body cams. Many policies and procedures have been implemented in law enforcement agencies to address those issues. A lot has also been written on the acute and chronic stressors frequently experienced by those in law enforcement such as:
In recognizing those challenges, many agencies have implemented
programs to assist officers with those stressors. However, what about the more personal impacts of the job on the officer and on his/her family? It is abundantly evident that working in law enforcement creates or magnifies significant stressors and can sometimes produce alarming results:
Law enforcement stressors can accumulate and become huge! That is not surprising to you, our readers, nor is the fact that of all those stressors, officer-involved shootings (OIS) are especially stressful and often career-altering.
These factors are a mere glimpse of some of the challenges facing our law enforcement and first responder families. Truly, we can say about this line of work that “It’s Not Normal!” (for complete text of the poem, visit https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/notnormal/)
An officer in distress can meet with peer support or consult with the chaplains, Employee Assistance Program, or a police psychologist—those options can be quite helpful. Additionally, we know that those benefits can be magnified by “coming alongside”