By Mark DiBona
Jun. 03, 2016
A dedicated police officer experiences intense psychological pressures of his job and learns that, as a cop, your strength shouldn’t be only physical.
My lifelong dream was to be a cop, and I started on the job at age 21. I’ve been in law enforcement for 30 years and a supervisor for 17.
About eight years ago, I was going through tough times at work. I wasn’t getting along with my immediate supervisor. We were both alpha males, but we had different styles of working and supervision. He was hard-headed and strict, and I tried to be approachable to my team. I felt he was disrespectful. We became argumentative, insulting each other. He told me I wasn’t aggressive enough, that I had to be harder on my team. He gave me an evaluation of “below standards.” I felt worthless, like maybe he was right, maybe this job wasn’t for me anymore. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right.
This went on for a few months. It affected me physically. I gained 40 pounds. I refused to shave. I started coming in wrinkled uniform. I didn’t go to my wife for help. I thought, “If you aren’t a cop, you don’t understand.” The stigma is if you show a weakness, if you say something’s bothering you, they look at you like you are weak.
With all this happening, one night I am at the fire station, when a woman pulls up in her car. She cried, “My baby isn’t breathing!” Just before she pulled up, the firefighters had gone out on a call, so I did CPR on the baby for what seemed like an hour.