BEAT COP By: Alan Graham

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What if every single minute of your day was knowing that you were in grave danger from someone who wanted to kill you. Every time you left your house for work that you may not come home, and that the people you love, and who love you, will never get to see you ever again. 

This is the horizon that our military faces as they lay their lives on the line for the rest of us who wallow in freedom and security. 

This is also the the same dreadful landscape that the average beat cop patrols 24/7  as they go about their duties serving and protecting the property and lives of their communities.

Coronado to the eye, appears to be Mayberry RFD the television show from the 1950s in a wonderful idilic community where everyone is happy and the biggest crime in killing time.  However, the average Coronado cop faces the very same violent dynamic as the inner city cop does.

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The cop who gave you a speeding ticket and the you now despise, more than likely prevented you from causing an accident, or worse. When you make ill informed or rash statements about cops, or say “all cops are this or that” it would do you good to remember that a Police officers life is fraught with never-ending stress which is often compounded by disrespect of the people they serve and protect.

So, the next time you come into contact with a police officer, before you get in his/her face, please remember that they suffer the very same ups and downs or hopes and fears that we all do, the only difference being that they do not get to say what they think to you, but you get to say whatever you want to them, while they must remain calm and courteous  at all times.

Coronado cops are some of the finest of our great nation and they deserve the appreciation and deep respect for laying their lives on the line every day for all of us.

Law enforcement officers recognize that stress is part of the profession and working conditions. In the past, police culture did not recognize stress as a problem affecting their officers. However, there is now plenty of evidence and research showing that unmanaged stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What many officers might not be aware of is the long-term effects of chronic fatigue and the relationship between stress and fatigue. Not getting enough rest and not eating properly in order to fuel the body can increase the effects of fatigue. Being fatigued on-duty causes many issues, such as poor decision making and other cognitive task difficulties.

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When stress is preventing normal sleep times (6 to 8 hours, recommended), an officer can quickly encounter sleep deprivation. A study conducted in 2011 compared the effects of sleep deprivation to excessive drinking of alcohol and found the effects on a driver were very similar.

Both sleep deprivation and alcohol caused impaired speech, inability to balance, impaired eye-hand coordination, and falling asleep behind the wheel (Senjo, 2011). When officers are constantly fatigued after their shift, they often do not find the time to unwind, change gears, and enjoy their time off away from the job.

Even with the current departmental manpower issues caused by the current economic times, already overworked officers continue to work double shifts, special patrol details, and second jobs. Studies have shown that fatigued officers have performance issues on and off duty. Officers are willing to sacrifice their health and safety by accepting the increase workload to provide the extra income for their families, despite the warning signs caused by working while fatigued.

It is the responsibility of elected officials and senior law enforcement officers to bring reasonable balance through policies that are supported by research. Recent studies show that police culture still supports the mentality that working more is better for your career, despite the data that chronic fatigue causes serious performance and health issues.

Please let the Coronado police officer you meet know how much you truly appreciate the excellent services which they provide to us all.

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