Monday, November 11, 2013

PTSD: Not An Acronym For "What's In It For Me?"

     Several police officers in Newton, CT -- men who were among the first responders to the school shooting -- are now claiming PTSD.  One of them has apparently never returned to work and NBC spent some time with him and his attorney in TV this morning, murmuring and exchanging troubled glances.

     But that's not the disturbing part; that's just Big Media business as usual: grope for your heartstrings and yank as hard as they dare, then sell you tires and toothpaste while you're vulnerable.

     No, the disturbing part is that some of these officers want to be sent home on full pay until they reach retirement age 'cos of their new disability. Newtown's insurance covers two year's pay, leaving the town stuck paying more than one officer for more than ten years of... Not policing.  Being mopey.

     There was a time when any policeman worthy of the name would die of shame rather than admit to being defeated by a single horrible crime scene (listen to some corners of the blogitariate and they'll tell it's still like that, only worse; that all cops are headcases who revel in blood and death.  At least we can now mark that theory debunked).  There was once a time when even public servants strove to give full value for their pay.

     Those days are gone.  Gone, too, are the days when a strong man could stand up and admit he'd been emotionally overwhelmed by a terrible situation, but he was determined to overcome it.  Nope, now we've got policemen who go on TV and choke back tears, sitting next to legal counsel and hoping, oh, hoping their employer will see the light, and send them home to sleep in, eat chocolates, watch soap operas and weep.  And they'll take 'em to court if they don't.

     I have a great deal of compassion for the adults and children who survived the attack at the elementary school.  Teachers don't expect to face anything much worse than playground accidents and upset tummies.  But police?  No, I'm sorry. Dreadfulness comes with the job. If you can't return to work, Mr. Officer, you'd better learn another trade, not lean on the taxpayers to keep your delicate self in contemplative idleness forevermore or until your pension kicks in.



Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Nobody is willing to do the hard work anymore.

Anonymous said...

"...they'll tell...that all cops are headcases who revel in blood and death. At least we can now mark that theory debunked."

I know from personal experience that the theory is wrong, but I think this particular case buttresses the argument. What could possibly be more psychotic than using such a tragedy to get a minute of fame, weeping in public, all the while squeezing inside at the prospect of gorging for free at the public trough, and if a sweet baby or twenty have to die so that they may dance in their blood as collect that blood money, so be it.

Disgusting and pathetic, and while not the norm, definitely not an isolated case.

Anonymous said...

"squeeing" inside. Damn autocorrect.

Sport Pilot said...

Good essay and quite factual as well. As a recently retired LEO I had resources available for peer support and psychological treatment for recovery. The officers I supervised did as well, those who were really cut out to be good cops stuck with it. Those who weren’t left, sooner or later, the lame, witless or useless have and will always tried to receive something for nothing.

rickn8or said...

If the teachers who faced the attack unarmed can come back to work, then the LEO's who showed up after the fact can suck it up and soldier on.

"You knew the job was rotten when you took it."

Comrade Misfit said...

My feeling is that there are two types of lawyers who appear on TV with their clients: Mouthpieces (criminal defense) and Ambulance-chasers.

Sigman said...

Bad crime scenes take their toll and some deal with it better than others. But, lifetime total disability? No. Not just no but hell no. And I say that as some who has carried a badge and gun for 38 years. I don't want to sound brash but I've seen my share.

Dave H said...

Along with readin', writin', and 'rithmetic, we need to teach folks that "money" does not always equal "help."

If the guy needs help, I'm all for getting him help and spending the money to do it. But going from "oh my God, it's horrible!" to "woe is me, it's hopeless!" makes it sound like maybe they've skipped over a few steps.

Robin said...

I want to be sympathetic ... but if you can't do the job anymore, go work as a clerk. One is not entitled to cop pay just because the job isn't to ones taste any longer.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

That officer should be explaining PTSD to Medics picking up shards of human flesh off bushes and trees in the aftermath of a big IED.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

The 'shell shock' of Great War soldiers was a bit different from what we see with PTSD today. Fellows who suffered long bombardments were so overloaded with crash and din that they couldn't function at all...but PTSD is real, and it is a crime that the gov wants to make its victims out to be crazy. The nicest men I have known suffered from PTSD, and I didn't even know about it 40 some years ago. For stellar examples, look at Maurice Chevalier, who fought at Verdun. Nobody came out of that unchanged, and yet, he projected the most charming persona you will see. Jimmy Stewart flew B-17's and he never projected the pain from his experiences. Clark Gable...he served in bombers, too. My father in law fought at Bougainville, Guam and Iwo; he never told his daughters about his nightmares, and if you didn't ask him about it, you would never know.

One of my best friends was a career law enforcement officer with severe PTSD, and was the most considerate man I ever saw performing arrests. He told me that if his bosses knew what was in his head he would never work again, but, he "had taken all the psych courses" and knew how to answer all the questions.

Roberta X said...

PTSD is real enough, but for insurance purposes, it's like back pain: easily faked, difficult to disprove.

Can one morning of horror cause PTSD? Probably, depending on the individual.

1918 is long past. If the officer(s) in question need medical treatment, I'm okay with that. There are drugs that supposedly help (the traumatic-memory-erasing blood pressure drug I was taking briefly to see if it would help with my migraines, for instance), especially in conjunction with the "talking cure." But the taxpayers don't owe him a lifetime free ride.

Generations of (mostly) men have managed to cope with horrors as bad or worse, with varying degrees of effectiveness, and the ones who got anything even close to a "free ride" were in no shape to go on network TV and bemoan the cruelty of not getting paid to stay home and brood.

markm said...

Verdun was weeks of intense bombardment and killing - and for most of the men, this came after a year of combat, or at least of living in trenches while Germans tried to kill you, and was followed by a couple more years of the same. The "combat fatigued" soldiers that Patton tried to cure with a slap in the face probably didn't have it that bad, but they'd been in combat for weeks or months, and even a Sherman tank wasn't much protection. And these guys were drafted.

The cops _chose_ to take a job dealing with violence and horror. If they can't take one morning of it - unlike the WWI and WWII draftees, who had to take worse for weeks, months, and even years - then from the day they joined, the cops have been drawing a salary that they turned out to be unable to earn. They certainly haven't earned more.