Children of the Badge: The Impact of Stress on Law Enforcement Children

Tim Burrows:

There has been lots of talk lately about police officers and the impact of PTSD…here is an article that takes a look at those who probably get overlooked in the equation of support….children.

Originally posted on Badge of Life Canada:

Author: ©Mark Bond
May 22, 2014

We know that being married to a law enforcement officer (LEO) has its challenges. But how does extended exposure to secondhand stress and trauma affect the children of LEOs?

According to a 2002 study led by Rudy Arredondo, law enforcement children “can develop traumatic stress vicariously” through watching and listening to 0522policechildtheir parents experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This exposure can cause symptoms such as hyperarousal, intrusive thoughts, eating disorders and aggressive agitated behaviors. Children can even share the same memories or re-enact the LEO’s trauma by knowing that a traumatic event was experienced by the parent.

Law enforcement parents with prior training in stress management techniques after experiencing a traumatic event are less likely to transmit these symptoms to their children because they recognize their own stress responses. Not all children will experience or transfer their parents’ stress; however, it…

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7 year old goes to park alone…mom arrested.

As parents, think of the advice you have given your children about dealing with strangers.

  • Don’t talk to strangers.
  • If a stranger tries to talk to you run away.
  • Go where there are lots of people.

Now how would you feel if that kind of advice got you arrested! That’s just what happened to a Port St. Lucie woman this past weekend according to news reports. And yes, I know there are two sides to every story and there might be information that isn’t being released to the public about the issue, but that’s not my concern here.

PERCEPTION is my concern

I have been left with the perception that this woman who trusts her 7-year-old son to walk alone with a cell phone, has been arrested because she allows him some extra freedom and encourages him to be outside instead of inside.

Is that the reality? I have no idea. I can only go by the story being reported that has left this woman charged with a felony offence.

That is the perception that I have been left with…the officer knows better than the mother in this case if the boy is able to be on his own and make good decisions.

According to the police report, “numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity.”

That’s true…in fact here’s a link to show that there are five sex offenders and two predator’s living within in a one mile circle of the park:

And here’s the map that comes back to the search:

  • Blue Pins = Offenders
  • Red Pins = Predators
1 mile around the park

1 mile around the park

For comparison…don’t let your children go to the Port St Lucie Police Station because it’s surrounded by the same number of registered sex offenders:

1 mile around the PSLPD

1 mile around the PSLPD

Even if there is more to this story than meets the eye, it’s the perception that is the killer here. I, along with many other people are left with the impression that the story is exactly how this has been presented by one side only.

This story has been out for well over 12 hours with updates and not a word from the police department to try to change perception.


Stop me if you’ve heard this one…”We want your kids to run to us when there is a problem, not away from us.”or “Don’t tell your kids the police will take your children away if they’re bad.” (PERCEPTION)

I’m pretty sure the young boy in this story won’t be looking at the police anytime soon for help after his mom got arrested. (PERCEPTION)

This just sent a message to the child…we’re not here to help you out, we’re here to arrest your parents. (PERCEPTION)

This just sent a message to the parents…you will be the helicopter parent that causes us so many problems later in life when your children can’t take care of themselves or recognize danger when they are alone. (PERCEPTION)

This just sent a message to the community…we’d rather arrest the low hanging fruit of a parent using a questionable decision than protect you all against the fear we are trying to instil being the pedophiles. (PERCEPTION)


The police will rarely ever make this decision alone. There would have been any phone calls made to determine the best course of action deemed appropriate by several interested parties. In Florida (where this occurred) the States Attorney will make the final decision of whether to move forward with a case or not.

There is definitely more information that hasn’t been released which can shed light on the case but in fairness, it probably won’t be and shouldn’t be until such a time as is appropriate before the courts.

The part of this story that made me most sad was that the mother no longer wants to let her son go to the park by himself not because she fears for her safety, but because she is afraid she will be arrested again. (REALITY)


This story may become my new example for clients on why you must have a communications strategy in place for when you are dealing with tough situations.

When you have a case that has the slightest smell of the potential of emotional sentiment from the public, get out in front of the story. The child, a park, a mother, sex offenders…every recipe in this screams emotional sentiment.

No spin…spin never wins, own it. State the facts as they are. Don’t make the fact fit the case or someone might point out that every neighbourhood is ripe with sex offenders.

Information is at everyone’s finger tips today and it doesn’t go away.  Social media is charged with emotional driven content and negative experiences. People complain at an incredible rate on social media about negative experiences they have had and other people love to share in that experience and pile on when they can.

Be there to enter the conversations and stem the tide of negative sentiment. Even if you can’t stop it, you can at least be there to take your licks and to show you are willing to talk to the public.  That will buy you good will and respect…in case you ever need to cash some of that in.

I’m pretty sure that this case will go nowhere given the circumstances and the comment made by the SA’s office saying, “There is no law to say how old a person has to be before they can go somewhere alone.” but then again, there is no law to say how young they can be either.

But in the meantime, is that enough to take a chance on your reputation before you come out and say something? Perception is everything.






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Militarization of Special Weapons and Tactics Teams In American Policing: A Los Angeles Police Department Perspective

Tim Burrows:

The “militarization” of police departments is a sexy term.
The real term is simply being prepared to fight fire with fire. Police react to the situation presented to them. SWAT Teams and military looking gear and equipment only became the norm when people stop using words to protest and started using violence….

Originally posted on IACP Blog:

Guest Bloggers: Charlie Beck, Chief of Police; Michael Downing, Deputy Chief
Commanding Officer, Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau; and
Ruben Lopez, Lieutenant, Officer-in-Charge, SWAT – Los Angeles, California, Police Department

There have been many reports and articles concerning the militarization of municipal law enforcement tactical teams commonly known as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
Most recently, the American Civil Liberties Union’s report entitled, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, focused on the militarization of SWAT teams and whether the transfer of military equipment to these teams lacked effective civilian oversight, resulting in unnecessary and excessive force. The evolution and growth of these teams scattered throughout our country in various forms (regional, part-time, full-time), have continued with more part-time teams being assembled and equipped with current funding opportunities from the U.S. government. Questions have been raised whether the proliferation of SWAT teams without civilian oversight has…

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Police and The Higher Standard

Two news articles caught my attention today because they both point directly to the heart of the police being held to a higher standard.

The first is a video which details a police department’s search for a suspect wanted in relation to a crime that had occurred. That in itself is good police work. The problem was the person turned out not to be a suspect at all but a possible witness at best. The video is from April of this year and the page that sent out the information doesn’t even exist on FB anymore.


Takeaway: Social media has made it much easier and more efficient to reach out to the public and ask for their help in identifying people. The problem that it has created though, is the Internet is forever.

Think what the ramifications could be for this woman. Sure the police can delete the information, they can issue a follow-up, but a search on her could show a cached or shared copy of the post and a perspective employer (or current one) could see it.

Tip: Think about how you classify someone. Instead of calling your potential target a suspect of a crime, consider simply asking your public to help identify the person as a potential witness that you need to speak with. In a case like this it can go a long way in maintaining good relationships with your community.

The second, I will admit, made me laugh.

A cartoon was posted by a police account in the UK. The first reason I laughed was that it was cute joke that I have seen several times on different social channels. It plays on the stereotype of distractions and how couples see each other. Again…it is a joke!

The second reason I laughed is because this was posted by a police department in the UK that clearly has nothing to do with the UK since the driver is on the wrong side of the car.

Outrage after ‘sexist cartoon’ mocking women drivers is tweeted by police force.

Photo: The Mirror UK

Photo: The Mirror UK

Takeaway: The problem is, as the news article points out is no matter how you look at it, this joke is offensive. It is a subject that is offensive. Maybe not to everyone, but to many and the police can’t take the risk of being funny at the expense of others in this manner.

Is there a place for humour in a police agencies social media? Absolutely, but it is a fine line that must be walked and respected if you are going to go down that path.

Tip: If you are going to use humour, be considerate of everyone’s feelings. If you can’t look at a joke and know you won’t offend with it then leave it alone.

Police are held to a higher standard for good reason. Part of that higher standard ensures that there is always a leader and a voice of reason to be respected and looked up to. A voice of trusted authority.

If you try to hard to be just like everyone else, you might actually get there.

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Conference Spotlight: Chief Executive Track

Tim Burrows:

Looks like the IACP Chief Executive Track is certainly one to be following at this years conference.

Originally posted on IACP Blog:

We’re kicking off our IACP 2014 Education blog series with the Chief Executive Track! Look for this icon on our website and in our program to signify Chief Executive Track workshopsChiefExecutiveTrack.

Always the largest track at annual IACP conferences, the Chief Executive Track at IACP 2014 offers insightful and thought-provoking education for all executive levels in law enforcement. The instruction, delivered by top-notch players in the field of public safety, keep the educational sessions fresh from year to year – and this year is no exception!

Are you wondering about how to change crime prevention strategies in your jurisdiction? One example of an important and relevant session being offered in the Chief Executive Track is “Hot Spots, Hot People and Hot Approaches: The Law Enforcement Executive’s Guide to Evidence-Based Approaches to Crime and Violence Reduction.” You’ll hear from police executives who have implemented plans of action in their…

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Live Tweeting – A Drug Raid?

Forget about virtual tweet-a-longs or twitter chats to let your community know what’s happening. How about hitting a door with a search warrant and tweeting while it’s happening.

It appears that is just what Sgt Mark Jones of the North Wales Police did today and did a great job of it.

You can see Sgt Jones was able to use humor, pictures and words perfectly to describe what was happening and if you happened to be one of Mark’s followers and you were online when it all went down I bet you were entertained and educated…quite possibly, cringing as well.

As much fun as something like this would be to do, there are some considerations that should be made.

1.) Knock – Knock

Making this kind of announcement live is a bit dangerous. Given the amount of work that goes into a search warrant the last thing you would want to do is tip-off your target that you’re coming to say hello. A paranoid dealer or a smart business man will be watching and listening to see if there is anything that might disrupt their hard work. It would be horrible to lose the advantage of surprise and before you know it, your paranoid target gets rid of any evidence prior to your arrival.

2.) Identifying your starting point – Parking lot

Warrants usually start close to the target location. By showing your starting point you are tipping off people in that area where you are going. If I’m a dealer in the area, I’m now taking steps to ensure you aren’t getting me.

3.) Hello Puppy – Awesome

Adding the picture of your police dog into a running story like this? That is just awesome. Anytime you can get the puppies in a picture that adds value, you’re onto greatness. I would have used very different words for the tweet though.


This was a great way to engage your community and talk about what you are doing to help make them safer, but at the same time, your investment in the project has to be protected.  Think “Recorded Earlier.” or “Tape Delay.” 

You could very easily take pictures as you go along on the door knock, document everything you need, take your notes and then put out the entire event after it has occurred.

The public would understand and you keep the integrity of the operation intact and it would still be a great value to your audience.

The last tweet above is a nugget of overlooked gold in my mind that doesn’t happen nearly enough.  CLOSURE. Sgt Jones has grabbed the interest of his audience and instead of leaving them hanging, he let the community know what the result was.

Next Steps

Here is where the agency can capitalize on what just occurred.

  • Talk about why a search warrant for was done! Let your community know why you would hit a door for drugs…the spin-off crime, the gateways drugs, the ‘leading to the next player’.
  • Turn that into a video of the effects of drug use on a person with doctors and social workers help.
  • Offer an electronic document to your community for parents with a “what to look for” approach for parents.

Use what you have and re-purpose it for more information. One event, three more things you can talk about and create content and conversations around.


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Powering up your presence with partners

There is no greater truth in today’s modern age of policing than a principal that was written 185 years ago;

To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

This was the 7th instruct from Sir Robert Peel to the police officers employed by the Metropolitan Police Department.  9 principles to govern how police were to administer themselves for the greater good of the community in which they served.

Peel believed that every member of society were in fact the police and every member of the police were the public and that still holds true today.


The police and the public are partners in keeping peace and order in their community. The only difference being that police are paid for their duties and with that comes a greater responsibility, powers and commitment, but the desire for a better, safer community lies in everyone making peace and order a priority for a better quality of life. Police and the public they serve are truly partners in every way.


As long as I can remember police have asked the public for their assistance in solving crimes, identifying criminals and protecting themselves.

With the use of social media that partnership can be powered up.

SouthWest and Taco Bell get it. Justin Bieber understands it with his #Beliebers and Lady Gaga is a master of it with her “Kingdom of Monsters”. They don’t just appreciate their fans. They make them a priority in their success. Those brands know that you just don’t broadcast, but you broadcast, engage, share and promote you partners and you give them value that is beneficial to them.

Call it what you want;

  • building tribes
  • building community
  • building circles of trust
  • building a kingdom

In the end you want your own ground army to carry the torch for you.


When you reach out to your community on social media make them feel like they are truly part of the solution to whatever problems ay arise or are concerning them.

“Deputize” them. Make them your fellow “Crime-Fighters”. Let them know that they are part of a community and a huge part of making their lives better.

This can stem from the mantra of, “See something, say something.” and many times it can be as subtle as the words you choose to use.

“We need your help.” or “Let’s get this criminal off our streets.”

One statement makes it about ‘us’ (police) first and the community second while the other makes it about the team and the partnership.

If you really want to power up your presence with partners then think in terms of the community first.

Dear fellow crime-fighters, your “YourName” Police know that you’re going to be safer if you can identify the person responsible for the crime happening in your neighbourhood right now. You identify him, we’ll lock him up for you and you’ll rest easier with him out of your lives.

Most importantly, in this partnership you have thank your partners and let them know how they made a difference. It’s the little things like heartfelt thanks and recognition for their great work that can make the difference between a good and great partnership.

Partners come to the aid of each other, look out for each other and succeed easier working together. Build an army of partners. You build that army and the shares, retweets, likes, etc will increase your presence beyond just your partners, but to their partners as well.

Related posts:

As I was writing this post, I got a notification for this…kind of drives home the point doesn’t it?  Way to go Medford Police, and thank you.

UPDATE: This beauty just came through on Twitter. Very nice Anne Arundel Police! #socialmediasleuths


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Contests to connect with community

Contests are nothing new to social media.

There is literally a real contest happening in a virtual world all the time.  Some are for fun, some for prizes, bragging rights and laughs.

Independence Day is a huge event here in the United States with fireworks, picnics, BBQs, concerts, parades…the list goes on and on.  This year it even falls on a Friday ensuring there is even more happening, and for longer.

I caught a newscast out of Atlanta today and the Atlanta Police Department is certainly busy this weekend. Long hours, cancelled days off and big events happening.  It would be very understandable for any police agency to focus only on the task at hand, but the APD is using this weekend and the events to connect with their community once again.




This weekend, members of the APD are going to be wearing this shirt and encouraging the community to take pictures and post them online to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and you can win an instant prize! How freaking easy is that?

Atlanta Police Social Accounts

twitter white instagram fb



Come up with your own contest ideas that can truly create a point of unity between your agency and your community.

Four Contest Ideas that involve community

Caption Contest – Take a picture (fun, quirky, animals) and ask your community to give it a creative (but clean) caption.

Name the… – Getting a new K9 or mounted officer? Let your community name it or at least provide the names your agency wants and let the community vote the winner.

Trivia – Ask historical questions or current crime data / crime prevention questions about your agency that require them visiting your agency website or social platforms to find the answer.

Scavenger Hunt – Create a scavenger hunt that gets people to visit your agency, places of local interest or gather items that can be donated to a local food-bank or shelter.

No matter what, have fun and put the community first.

“Whatcha going to do when social media greatness runs wild from you! Brutha”

Photo from APD Facebook Page

Photo from APD Facebook Page

Do you have any contest suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!

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Genuine police response

Thank you PSNI Newry & Mourne for the morning chuckle courtesy of your Facebook Page. 

I personally love it when a stodgy old and proper industry like policing let’s down their hair a little and actually talks like the people talk (within reason).  Some people call it being more human (ugh), more relatable or just simple being genuine.

Case in point…humor, sarcasm and flippant attitudes can all play great in the right circumstance and situations.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland got just that chance after they caught wind of a bush party (rave) that was going to happen near a quarry so they did exactly what a police agency should do…they decided to prevent crime. They took to Facebook and let everyone know the event had been cancelled and that people should stay away.Crime and DIsorder Prevention But that aside, what came next was awesome. Big surprise…some people whined and cried about the mean police cancelling a party and ruining their summer. (Insert the most sincere “Boo-hoos” and “Whaaaaas” I can muster.)  The response??

Screen shot 2014-07-04 at 9.12.04 AM

Dripping with just enough sarcasm to let you know the police really don’t care about the bellyaching and whining. But they did it in a way that also led to an education factor.

So many people only see the immediate impact of what police do and assume the decisions made are short-sighted and reactionary. In this case,

Party>Illegal>Cancel>Done, case closed.

But here is what the police actually see, the big picture.

Party>Drinking>Drugs>Poor decisions>falls>fights>injuries>death>investigations>loss of life>mourning families>Cancel>Ensure it doesn’t go ahead>Educate>Prevent>React

I love the tone that the Newry & Mourne account took with the criticism because most of us (that can see the big picture) would react in that same manner. The question is, would we say it? Do we have the courage to be genuine?

Well done and thanks!

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How To Become A Police Officer

I was looking through some old emails today and I found an interesting little pattern. I was searching for a particular email and I could only remember bits of the subject matter so I started the search process and one of those delivered a return and after a minute I thought, “Dang…that question has been asked a lot!”

How can I become a police officer? 

I had over 270 emails that returned with that query. (Funny enough, it wasn’t what I was searching for but never overlook an opportunity to deliver content.)

Well, I can only tell you how I became a police officer and how some recruiters will suggest it. To that regard, I would recommend phoning the police agency you want to work for and ask them directly.

But, I also came across this tidy blog post which really spells out a great deal of information on the entire process.  Keep in mind not all of these will be applicable and every jurisdiction will be different in some regard. Click on the link below for some great information.

How To Become A Police Officer

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