Walking the Thin Blue Line:
How Stigma is Silencing Police Officers
by Shaamini Yogaretnam
Published on: October 10, 2014 (excerpt)
"It’s not just what happens on the job, says Det. Brenda-Jane Kerr, 50, who is clinically depressed. It’s what happens elsewhere in your life, too, that becomes so tied to the profession, which many officers take on as an all-encompassing identity.
“I finally realized my personal life had turned into a storm and I didn’t recognize myself anymore,” Kerr says.
She was bullied as a teenager and then again on the job by a staff sergeant. Failed relationships, a falling-out with her mother and financial problems that began to mount took her to dark places where she, too, had suicidal thoughts.
“We tend to learn a defective mode of coping on the job.”
Officers are required to present themselves at the scenes of the worst of what the world is, bear witness to horrendous behaviour, then stuff it away somewhere, because when a cop leaves one crime scene, the next call might require them to smile and help someone in need.
It’s emotional labour, and gruelling work at that.
“Learning to compartmentalize as police officers might be some of our problems as people,” Kerr says"."