Hello, I’m Ron barber.
In his excellent book, “We are the cop’s” British author Michael Matthews writes about his many ride alongs with American officers throughout this country. It’s a hell of a read and I highly recommend it to you.
In one passage, he recounts the experience of a young officer trainee who was complaining because absolutely nothing had happened on his very first shift after seven or eight hours with trolling the streets with his training officer. Then just as they’re headed towards the station, I’ll call, comes out for a possible suicide in an area very near to their location.
At that point, the veteran training officer, mumbles “Oh shit that’s right around the corner” and proceeds to wheel the cruiser in that direction. Sure enough, it’s within a block or two of where they were when the call came out, arriving in parking before they go inside. The veteran cop tells the trainee to make certain that he looks up once they’re inside. The train is mildly perplexed and as they enter the very first site is a male subject who is seated in a chair, a shotgun at his side and the top half of his head is gone. His head starts at a single googly eye staring directly at them. The site, of course, is highly disconcerting and it isn’t until the young cop feels a drip drip on his hair and shoulders that he finally does do what his veteran trainer told him to do. He looks up and it is.
Then he sees grayish, yellowish brain matter on the ceiling and oozing down on anything in its path. He never again failed to look up at the scene of a suicide the rest of his career. Within the last year, I had the extreme pleasure of meeting a retired 33 year veteran cop with the Seminole County Florida Sheriff’s department. He’s a great guy. Big loves to laugh, talks a mile a minute and is absolutely a human version of a big stuffed Teddy bear. He’s also a man who has been through the pangs of PTSD L and a suicide attempt that was only forwarded when a fellow officer and friend chanced upon him and was able to talk him down by saying, if you kill yourself, then I am going to kill myself. Sergeant Mark Di bona had gotten to a place in life where as he puts it, I didn’t like Mark Di Bona anymore.
I was overweight. I was drinking heavily. I was working for a Lieutenant I absolutely hated who was making life hell for me. The final straw for Mark was winning. He held the lifeless body of a drowned child in his arms. I wanted the hurt to be over. He had written a note of apology to his wife, another one to his mother with them in a plastic case that he affixed to his rear view mirror, had apologized to God and even though he was a Catholic, asked God to let him provide security at the Gates of heaven. If nothing more. He had the gun in his mouth, his finger on the trigger when his close friend, officer Craig McGee just seem to materialize and as I said, was able to talk Mark down. The reason I’m telling you this is because of the fact law enforcement has been sweeping the issue of top suicides under the rogue and doing a massive pretend act for decades in which the edict has always been.
Cops need to deal with their own problems to put on their big boy pants, suck it up and move forward. No matter what the hell’s or traumas they have experienced wrong. And if ever anyone can relate to hurting officers or despondent cops, it is Mark Di Bona.
I urge you to checkout two absolutely critical programs from line of duty parts one and two of suicide prevention, the amazing journey of Sergeant Mark Di Bona available right now.
Check it out in our store– See our Special Issues episodes, 44 and 45. Learn about Mark’s incredible journey and come back. Learn how to start a peer to peer support group and who to manage it. What signs do pain cops exhibit and how to approach them with wisdom, compassion, and support. Debriefings after traumatic incidents, what the sand them and how to say it and exactly what Mark Di Bona has told audiences that has caused cops to come up to him and tell him face to face, you saved my life.
Remember, it’s special issues 44 and 45 exclusively from in the line of duty and available via the store at lineofduty.com/shop/
Here’s the quote I thought you might appreciate as we close it out. I don’t have to draw a line in the sand. I already have one. It’s thin, it’s blue, it’s mine, and if you cross it, I will protect it. Godspeed.
All your great coppers current and past you are appreciated. That stuff you never ever learned at the Academy from in the line of duty.
I’m Ron barber.