How officers can keep their blood pressure low during a shift

By Tony Bertram, LCSW, CADC, CODP

One night a shift supervisor asked me how they expected them to cope with stress when they faced the same provocative events every day.

We call colleagues, family, children, friends and strangers in the community. Many may be involved in this behavior; and day by day, month by month we tell ourselves that we have the right to act and that others must understand.

Usually, when small things fail, I don’t get nervous or quick to get excited, but I’ve been hitting the smallest things for years. “

When a major stressful incident happens to us in law enforcement, we activate our learning and focus on our mission with the precision that the decisions we make in this incident seem instinctive. However, when small-scale events occur hour by hour, they accumulate like gravel in our shoes. Like pieces of wood in our palms. And it’s like a dull headache that won’t go away even if you take a pill.

My wife once told me: “When your neighbor had a heart attack and you ran to their aid, reproduced and saved his life, it was as if nothing had happened. But when I asked you to bring laundry, just like I asked you to give me a kidney. ‘”

We often base our small-scale reactions on prior knowledge of similar events. We enter them with a selfish perception, minimizing almost everything, and we use unhealthy thinking (thoughts or beliefs that are irrational or biased and wrong) that are compatible with our personal lives and can lead to more alcohol abuse. argue and listen to them. less to those who love us.

My shift is like a slow one, everyone and everything makes me nervous. ”

Is it possible that the slow, regular, and monotonous accumulation of small-scale events creates a lack of boundaries, dulls emotional control, and destroys a healthy sense of voluntariness? Is it possible that this repeated exposure will enter our personal lives?

So how do we deal with the accumulation of small-scale stressful events that make up the bulk of our shift and treat them with the same unconditional commitment, loyalty and motivation as large-scale events? Although some things may be out of our control, there are always things we can do to adapt and respond more appropriately and effectively to the situation.


We can start with ourselves. Our shifts are just as good as we get to it. If we bring luggage from the previous shift or argue from home, the shift has already started in a negative way.

We fix this through one thinginventory. ”In the clinical world, therapists ask their clients to describe their inventory of events that took place. An inventory should include“ emotional words ”to describe what happened the day before.

The best time to take inventory is with your partner and before your next shift. If no partner is available, record your thoughts using the voice memo app on your phone and play it later.


We can create roles. At the beginning of the shift, you and your partner (if you manage two teams) assign roles. If you are driving single-handed teams, just agree with the next call officer or another machine that you work closely with.

One officer takes the role of a “top” person and the other a “bottom” person. The person above makes a positive statement and speaks optimistically during the shift. The person below stays in a neutral position, approaches the topics of conversation carefully and even sometimes excludes himself. The goal is to introduce balance.

A balance of balance, intelligence, and rhythm is what promotes three things that are rare in your shift. “

In addition, every officer has the opportunity to “be”. To be present, to ignore, to accept, and to forgive yourself, allow yourself to be put up or down. You may have noticed in life that when you bring two people together or bring two people together, decision making slows down and problem solving becomes more difficult. And both officers experience animosity and despair, which are commonly seen between people and each other.

My partner and I enjoy things up and down because when we allow each other to “be” it reduces expectations between the two of us. “


We can learn to identify our negative thinking, which has a sense of right, a closed mind (the idea that there is only one way to do things), unrealistic expectations, ignorance, and specificity, but not limited to it.

The reason why such thinking can exacerbate and worsen small-scale events during your shift is because we use them when communicating with others. A sense of authority and privacy prevents us from being humble in front of others. Unrealistic expectations and hatred can lead to conflict between you and your co-workers, your spouse, your family, your children, and your community.

They keep you captive and stop you from benefiting from criticism and other people’s opinions about your performance. Your career is not about maturity, it’s about perseverance. Therefore, instead of being dishonest in your decision-making (routine and daily process), consider the appropriate way when the reference to your internal integrity is disputed during small-scale events.


We can use thinking as a cure for small events that accumulate in our minds. When we don’t see the mind, we lose understanding, we control ourselves, we maintain muscle tension, and we lose the details needed to make effective decisions. Small-scale vulnerable experiences also tend to be at the forefront of our thinking. This process moves to the next shift and ultimately to our personal lives.

Whenever I feel like someone is downsizing and being fired, I tell myself to go back to basics. ”

Vigilance is the concept of being. If we are not “at the moment,” then we are not justified. Grounding is a very effective method that can be used to press the reset button while listening to the 12th or 13th call for a service, all mixed up. Landing is a two-way movement that starts quickly and ends slowly (slowing down the brain). Some officers put their index fingers on the rudder or put their fingers in the upper center of their duty belt.


We can also disrupt the gathering of small events with the admissions process. Learning to tolerate anything uncertain is stressful and difficult. Acceptance of things starts with curiosity. Your shift has the potential to be smooth, steady and uninterrupted with workouts. Maintaining curiosity keeps us from judging – judging people in society, judging colleagues and judging ourselves. Be curious as to why people do what they do, instead of judging them for it.

Live altruistic

This allows you to anticipate that people will appreciate you when you do something good, it is a relief of satisfaction, and it reduces the great burden of the proud and honorable work you do.


A common practice in counseling is to check our own conversation. Our level of thinking, behavior, and awareness may change after learning effective questions for ourselves in response to comments or external situations. Here are a few examples from officers and potentially controversial questions that may be helpful.

  • Someone in the community says, “You don’t look like or behave like the police.” Self-Response Answer: Have I heard anything meaningful in comparison to this statement?
  • Someone in the community says, “You look like one of the good people.” Self-Disclosure Answer: Am I willing to stand firm when the integrity of my profession is called into question?
  • You say as an officer, “I want this person to help, but I have to arrest them.” Self-Response Answer: Do I associate personal guilt with this arrest? Do I respond with emotion or thought?
  • Situation: You reach the fourth scene of the same nature in your shift. Self-discussion: Is my focus more on controlling the outcome or my interpersonal skills? Am I slowing down because of a lack of curiosity?
  • Someone in the community says, “Do you feel good about your job?” Controversial Answer: Do I know the history of this person and what brought them to this level? Am I willing to listen when I feel uncomfortable?

Thanks to President Luis Tigera for supporting this article.

About the author

Tony Bertram, LCSW, CADC, CODP, has 23 years of experience working with crime victims and offenders, 14 years as a former police officer and 9 years as a social worker. For the community, he provides interventions for the mental health crisis, drug services, and district court advocacy. For the department, Tony provides mandated training, assists the Bureau of Investigation in investigations, and conducts health consultations with department members.

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