Blue Watch Is on Social Media
Blue Watch is excited to announce we are now on Facebook! Our page is not 100 percent complete – some portions are still under construction, but it’s our hope this will allow us to expand our reach and help many more officers learn about Blue Watch.
We will be posting vlogs, advertising events, and sharing information that we believe is of interest to our audience. Like our Blue Watch Foundation page and feel free to share it with your friends.
Spring Conference Rescheduled for September 1 & 2
We’re excited to announce the Spring Conference is rescheduled for September 1 & 2. We had to change the format and move it to multiple venues, but after months of delay, we’re able to move forward with the presentation of “Sun Tzu and the Officer Resiliency Mindset.”
As previously reported, we had to postpone the event due to our inability to secure a venue because of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of the original 8-hour format, the conference has been reduced to a 4-hour format and will be presented at two Birmingham area agencies – the Vestavia Hills Police Department on September 1, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on September 2. Both are open to officers from outside agencies. If you are interested in attending, contact the following:
Speaker Jim Bontrager will bring a timely message that every officer needs to hear. This is a free event that you will not want to miss! Help spread the word and let’s fill each session to capacity.
To learn more about the training and speaker, see the related article in this month’s newsletter. If you have questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boys don’t cry & Cops don’t fear… Two taboos that need revisiting.
By Manuel Zarate, Director of Leadership Development
Our society used to tell boys they could not cry, that was back when John Wayne and Clint Eastwood were considered the poster children of masculinity. Things haven’t changed when it comes to cops, the old paradigm still reigns. Cops seem to live with an unspoken personal commitment to not feel and therefore not fear. But cops fear, you fear many things, even if they are the wrong things to fear.
The most basic definition of fear is: “a negative and disturbing feeling that we experience as a result of possible personal hurt!” That feeling could be a specific occurrence, but in many cases is a continual reality. It’s an occurrence when you face those imminent and unavoidable situations of the trait that create the ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Regular citizens have the pleasure of fleeing, but not cops. You have to fight, even when flooded by fear. You know you fear a bad person with a weapon. You fear a mob out of control, etc. All of those are ‘occurrence fears.’
There are persistent fears – fears you experience for a prolonged time – which are usually irrational and generally based on faulty reasoning. For instance, when you fear people in general believing that ‘everyone’ is bad and out to hurt you; or when you fear those above you in rank or social status because ‘everybody in authority will stab me in the back if necessary; or ‘Internal affairs is out to get me.’ Whether rational or irrational, temporary or persistent, fears can damage you in many ways and they can impede your performance. So, in order to offer some guidance, let’s consider three key issues about fears:
- You have to recognize that it is okay to have fears; embrace them! Having fears doesn’t make you less effective as a law enforcement agent, it actually makes you more objective and better prepared to adequately respond to life’s situations both at work and home. Talk to somebody you trust about the things you fear – no matter how unimportant or dramatic they may be. Look for somebody who is older in your department, family or church. Write about it in a journal. Embrace it and let it out, don’t pretend you don’t have fears. It’s okay to cry – big boys and big girls are allowed to cry – even if they wear blue.
- Look at your fears and analyze them in detail. You’ll find that irrational fears are those that have to do with a future possibility – they are never about the present. Once a bad situation actually materializes in the present, it becomes a ‘fight or flight’ type of thing and you respond to it as you know how. Fears about what ‘could happen’ always damage your emotional life; they create a type of mental tunnel vision that block you from enjoying life fully and connecting with others around in a holistic way. Basically, those fears keep you from being the best version of yourself personally and professionally.
- Perhaps the most intentional thing you can do is purposefully redirect your fears. In other words, decide what you are going to fear and let it become a warning sign. To do this you have to imagine possible case scenarios. In today’s world, a person with a phone can hurt you more than your superiors, especially when the worst of you is coming out. Imagine what’s happening right now in the lives of the four officers who were involved in the death of George Floyd. Imagine your personal life and your career suddenly finished because of one action. Fear the worst version of yourself acting out of control. Think of what could possibly trigger that self to come out. Imagine that you are the green Hulk and think of what things would make you explode into an unrecognizable being.
In closing, work on your thoughts because that is where the seeds of all actions are planted. Find ways to serve people you dislike and learn to see them just like you. Try to understand them and what they are going through.
Sun Tzu and Officer Resiliency Mindset
In 2018, 19 more officers took their lives than the year previous, which was three times as many as died from felonious gunfire. Each year the numbers continue to increase and this is an issue we can proactively address!
Examining the battle strategies identified by a highly revered ancient warrior named Sun Tzu, we can identify vulnerabilities in the profession and with them, preventative strategies that can make all the difference in helping officers develop resiliency before a crisis develops.
Sun Tzu was a Chinese general and tactician born in 544 BC. A brilliant strategist, he authored the epic war tome, The Art of War, required reading for the CIA, U.S. Military Intelligence and the Marine Corps Reading Program. Sun Tzu specialized in tactics that equipped an inferior force to defeat a superior one. Employing such principles as using deception, carefully accommodating oneself to your enemy’s purpose, studying your enemy’s disposition, baiting his forces to divide/conquer them through ambush and ideally breaking their resistance without fighting was the primary goal.
This training will examine how these same tactics are used to destroy law enforcement officer’s psychological well-being. We will identify the deceptions employed against officers, the ways evil accommodates itself to the profession, the baits offered to lure officers and the sobering reality of success in getting them to quit without a fight. “The skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible … “, stated Sun Tzu.
Presented by Jim Bontrager, a Senior Law Enforcement Chaplain from Elkhart, Indiana, this course will share “rubber meets the road” strategies that are not touchy-feely but will armor up warriors psychologically, fortifying them against defeat.
Jim is a veteran law enforcement instructor, communicator and U.S. Marine. He is the recipient of many awards including 2018 recipient of the John A. Price Excellence in Chaplaincy Award and authored the official law enforcement curriculum for the movie Courageous. Jim is founder/director of Warrior on the Wall, which works to address law enforcement suicide, family breakdown, and the unique emotional/spiritual challenges to the profession. Don’t miss it!
Support Our Mission
Prayerfully consider making Blue Watch part of your annual giving. To do all we hope in 2020 will require greater community support. If this is something you feel led to support, you can give two ways:
Make a check payable to Blue Watch and mail to 2620 Swiss Lane, Birmingham, AL 35226.
The mission of Blue Watch is to help officers and their families experience the relevance and benefits of God in their lives.