Safe Call Now

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Isolation of Correctional Officers

By Dr. Olivia Johnson

The isolation of a job in corrections can leave many feeling out of sight and out of mind. And being out of sight and out of mind tends to allow certain things to go unaddressed. A general consensus I have noticed when talking with CO’s has been that they believe no one cares about their wellbeing and that workplace bullying and bad behavior is at an all time high. Just listening to these stories is enough to make you cry, but I have to ask: What is wrong with us that we have become so cold as to not care about a fellow officer? When did backstabbing, gossip, and all around bad behavior in the workplace become acceptable? Of course perception and reality may be two different things, but if so many CO’s are feeling this way, doesn’t that say something? If it doesn’t, it should.

Anyone accepting a position in corrections understands the threat of the criminal element, the idea that they could be injured or even killed by an inmate. That is reality. And no matter how sad this reality, what is often difficult for many CO’s to understand is how a co-worker, supervisor, or administrator could deliberately and sometimes, even with malice attack them verbally or mess with them just because they can. Sadly, many of these problematic individuals are able to continue this bad behavior without being addressed, disciplined, or terminated.  Call them what you want, but I call these individuals ‘workplace bullies.’

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI, 2014) bullying by is “threatening, humiliating, or intimidating … work interference – sabotage which prevents work from getting done, or verbal abuse (p. 1). Even sadder than having to address workplace bullying, are the statistics WBI revealed. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents indicated being victims of workplace bullying, either in the past or currently. Another 72 percent stated that they were aware of workplace bullying and sadly, bosses accounted for the highest number of workplace bullying incidents. Another 72 percent of “… employers deny, discount, encourage, rationalize, and defend it” (para. 2). A 2010 survey revealed some 13.7 million Americans said were currently being bullied at work, with the number around three times this for those bullied in the past (Riggio, 2011, as cited in Psychology Today). These numbers are alarming. If so many are victims and so many are aware of workplace bullying, what can be done to stop the bully and the bullying behavior before if affects workers, the organization, and the morale? 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2,650 Miles for #1stresponder Suicide Prevention

Safe Call Now's Julie Wimmer

The Excursion. Pacific Crest Trail.

“Amplifying Mental Health Awareness for First Responders.”

2,650 miles is more than just a number. It’s a commitment. Safe Call Now’s Marketing Director, Julie Wimmer, will set out to hike the 2,650 mile thru-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail commencing mid-April 2017, with an expected finish date of August - September 2017. This CrowdRise Fundraiser is designed to bring awareness to those first responders out there who are suffering in silence. 

“We’re Counting because they Count.”

In 2016, here are the sobering statistics of our #1stresponders in/out of uniform...

  • 140 police officers were killed in line-of-duty deaths
  • 98 Verified Police Suicides
  • 94 Verified Firefighter Suicides
  • 34 Verified EMS Suicides
  • 28 Verified Corrections Suicides
  • 4 Verified Dispatch Suicides

*Keep in mind, there are many more that go unreported.

When first responders took an oath to become a public safety servant, they respectfully put their uniform and badge on to serve one purpose – to protect and serve their community and although they knew there would be consequences, they had no idea they would become a target to so many. In 2016, 140 officers were killed in the line of duty. This is a travesty. Things can go wrong at any time in their job. Every day they have to be ready for the unexpected because they never know what’s coming. One moment it can be something dangerous, something tragic. Something that makes them question everything they thought they knew. And right after that, they may find themselves in a situation helping someone, saving someone. That’s the job. The amazing and the inhumane – side by side.

This elite hike is dedicated to our first responders who put their lives on the line every day to protect their communities. Please help me in this endeavor, by supporting this worthy cause. All proceeds will go directly to Safe Call Now® to help fund their 24-hour crisis line, resources and training and education nationwide.

Safe Call Now®, established in 2009, is a non-profit organization designed to offer nationwide, comprehensive crisis referral services for all public safety employees and their family members. Established and managed by public safety officials, Safe Call Now® recognizes firsthand the stressors first responders encounter and offers a broad array of training, as well as a confidential 24/7 crisis hotline staffed by current and former public safety employees.

To Donate:  Click here 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Addiction Killed this Cop...

My Dear Friend Terry Marvin

I received a phone call the other morning at 5:00 am advising me that my dear friend and 28-year veteran of law enforcement Terry Marvin had died of a heroin overdose (2016 repost).  Of course the cop in me kicked in and I went straight to denial and then I started making phone calls to confirm his death knowing all the while it was true because that’s how addiction works.  I’ve seen much negative press written about Terry’s death which is being used from my perception as political fodder to further the agendas of others. I wanted to tell you about Terry and what he meant to me.  

Those of you that know me know I’m a pretty blunt person and not politically correct because it’s not who I am.  That being said, let’s get it out on the table, cut through the crap and call it for what it is; no need to sugarcoat it because addiction when left untreated usually results in jails, institutions and death!!!

Terry, like myself, was not without fault.  Yes, he got into trouble while on the job. Yes, he got a DUI and there were probably other things that went on I have no idea about.  I know through my own addiction and dealings with other human beings that many of us have a lot of “baggage” in our closets we keep hidden.  Although it’s human nature, our secrets keep us sick.  Having said that, who the hell am I to judge his life because I too, am an addict and know I am only one step away from his fate. 

I met Terry when he was the director of operations for a treatment center that serves first responders as well as others.  At first I didn’t return his calls, but he was persistent.  I decided to make the trip to see him and see what he’s all about.  He met me at the airport and there he was in his Miami Dolphins jersey waiting to pick me up.  I had an immediate connection with him. We were both cops, we both caused a lot of pain for ourselves and others and we were now both committed to helping those that serve.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Peer Support & Mentoring

By Safe Call Now's Captain Brian Nanavaty

We make a living by what we get.  We make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill 

Peer support andmentoring programs are usually found in the most effective and Innovative organizations. Employee peer support and mentoring promotes a smoother transition for new hires and results in long-term individual and career growth and crisis avoidance. However, less than 1% of public agencies have formal peer support and mentoring programs and most provide little or no training or referral resources. 

Peer support is an integral part of early crisis intervention and involves trained peers responding quickly and effectively to peer distress. Mentoring enhances peer support programs in that it is developmental based and long term. This 2-day Bulletproof Series instructional course provides Peers and Mentors with a proven methodology of successful crisis identification, peer interaction and internal and external resource utilization to promote the healthy development of employees at work and at home. This training is a natural complement to CISM and other peer support training programs.

*Consultation on designing and implementing an employee peer support and mentoring program for your agency is available.

For more information contact Safe Call Now®’s Director of Training and Curriculum, Captain Brian Nanavaty at or 317-339-5118

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

#1stresponders... How Do You Know if You Have PTSD???

By Safe Call Now's Dr. Laura Brodie Ph.D.

National statistics report that six out of every ten males and five out of every ten females will experience a serious, traumatic event in their lives. Although the trauma may be painful to experience, not every person who goes through a trauma will develop PTSD. Statistics also say that only 7-8% of these people will develop PTSD.   That is a relatively low number in the general population. The exact statistics of how many first responders develop PTSD is not known but to compare, it is estimated that 30% of Vietnam veterans developed the disorder.  It certainly does occur and is painful and devastating when it does occur but there is also a phenomena that occurs where people simply assume that since the individual has been through a trauma, then they have PTSD.

Working in the mental health field and teaching doctoral students I see this a lot. Because there is a trauma, the therapist simply assumes that all of the problems the individual is having are due to that trauma and they slap the diagnosis of PTSD onto the person. This is wrong and harmful. None of an individual’s psychological issues are caused by one defining moment. Individuals are much more nuanced and multifaceted to have every problem come from one source. It may make the individual feel better initially to believe that if they simply solve the one problem they will be “fixed” but it is a naïve belief and they are soon letdown when not everything is fixed.

Having a reaction of horror or disbelief in the early stages of a trauma is normal. Many times it is abnormal not to have a reaction a strong reaction to trauma. To pathologize a normal emotion to an abnormal situation robs the individual of his own ability to synthesize the trauma into his own psyche and work it through.  It tells the individual there is something wrong with you for having a normal reaction.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Life of a Corrections Officer in Recovery

By Safe Call Now Peer Advocate Tammy Norton

The public watches many new TV episodes these days of “Orange is the New Black” or “Prison Break” and they wonder, what is it really like to work in a prison setting? Sean prompted me to write a piece for the blog and intimidated I was, not because I didn’t have plenty to say, I have worked in prison settings for the past 21 years-I just didn’t know how to say it.

When you hire on as that new Correctional Officer you never know until you walk through those gates that lock you in-and THEM out-how you are going to feel about this new career choice you have made. I have seen many new recruits turn around and head straight back out the gate once they heard the sounds of the locking mechanisms that are prevalent in my work environment-slam shut. T.V. can’t describe that feeling you get when you are outnumbered 200 to 1 and all you carry is a set of keys, a radio, and if you are lucky, a small canister of pepper spray.

In our profession, we manage the worst personalities that society has deemed unacceptable to maintain in a free environment and we place them all together. We are expected to act in a professional and non-judgmental demeanor to deal with individuals who have committed atrocities against children, other law enforcement officers or members of their communities and maintain safe and secure yet humane environments for them to reside-protecting them and us from each other when necessary.