A newly promoted patrol sergeant, I responded with my squad members to address a possible child neglect case. Unfortunately, such a call for service has been common throughout my law enforcement career spanning two states. Further, my assignment prior to promotion was as a Special Victim’s Unit (SVU) detective. I was accustomed to investigating such incidents as a component of my previous assignment. I had conducted extensive forensic interviews with numerous children, teenagers and adults, who had been the unfortunate victims of unthinkable physical and sexual abuse. Thus, as I arrived on scene several minutes after the initial officers had begun their investigation, I did not anticipate an emotional reaction, such as I witnessed and experienced, as I collaborated with my fellow officers. I was not prepared for the explicit display of visible emotional trauma I perceived upon the faces of veteran police officers. These officers had spent years working in the trenches, running into danger, shouldering the burdens of others, and otherwise meeting people in their traumatic moments. Yet, there was something about this call for service that penetrated the fortified exterior shell of two veteran police officers. I had known these officers for several years and had never witnessed such an emotional display.
One of the officers advised me not to enter the scene and view the carnage. He said, “Sarge, we have already photographed everything and officers are with the children. There is no need for you to see what we saw.” This officer was well aware of my background in SVU, but he desired to shield me from the internal trauma he was attempting to reconcile. He later told me he had just returned from his patrol vehicle, where he spent a few minutes sobbing. Two SVU detectives from my former squad arrived to assist with the investigation. A very seasoned detective told me it was the worst case of general child neglect he had ever beheld, quite a statement, considering his extensive experience with such cases.
I spent over an hour with these two officers, including additional follow up the subsequent day, debriefing the incident and providing a listening ear. I offered my best support, utilizing some of the knowledge I had obtained from such emotional survival pioneers as Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Dr. Kevin Gillmartin, as well as other notable researchers and trainers, but I knew this brief encounter would not be sufficient. I pondered my next course of action throughout the day, not simply to address this isolated incident, but considered a plan for assisting my colleagues on a comprehensive level. This responsibility I had perceived for years, became undeniable when I considered my new stewardship to care for the officers assigned to my command. I am not ashamed to admit I felt profound admiration and love for these officers, unknown heroes possessing exceptional skill and unusual commitment to confront evil and bear the burdens of others. I wondered, “Who would assume their burdens?” Who would rescue them in their hour of need? If not me, then who? I could no longer procrastinate the commencement of the journey I had already known was mine to pursue. It was time to help my brothers and sisters overcome heavy emotional obstacles inhibiting their ability to experience joy, and ultimately retain the capacity to provide emotional support to the public, and more importantly, to their loved ones.
Although the gravity of this singular experience was sufficient to grasp my attention, the day was not complete for these officers. At the end of their shift, the two officers I specifically mentioned previously, responded to a fatal traffic accident involving a three year old girl, who had been ejected in a roll over and was found deceased by officers. It was apparent to these two officers, who had previously been assigned to the traffic unit, that this little girl’s death was the result of neglect, as she had not been properly restrained in a car seat. Again, these two dedicated officers were tasked with confronting the disastrous consequences of irresponsible parents neglecting their children. Although their patrol shift had concluded and they were not obligated to remain on duty, they chose to offer their assistance. They felt compelled to assist, due to their expertise in investigating such major traffic accidents and more importantly, their sense of responsibility to others. They remained on scene until the conclusion of the investigation, constituting a lengthy and arduous patrol tour of duty.
Although I recognized the dedication of these officers by authoring a formal letter of commendation, this small gesture was insufficient to address the broader need to provide robust and consistent emotional support to the vast law enforcement community. Although reaching out to the law enforcement community via formal training courses, designed to disseminate critical information and provide tools for emotional resilience has been one venture I am currently pursuing, these efforts have been incomplete. Though such pioneers as Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Dr. Kevin Gillmartin have provided groundbreaking and irreplaceable insight into the realm of law enforcement emotional resilience, much work remains. This venture constitutes my attempt to contribute to and build upon their work, the research of numerous scholars, as well as to that of others seeking to rescue the rescuers.
Heal the Badge Consulting is dedicated to all who choose to share the burdens of others and lift them out of dire circumstances. Although specifically designed to enrich the lives of law enforcement professionals and their families, the principles, values, ideas, themes and suggestions contained in our training materials are disseminated with the intention of enhancing the lives of all who choose to engage with us. It is our aim to assist you in magnifying joy and fulfillment within your journey through a productive law enforcement career, while simultaneously succeeding in home and family life, ultimately thriving well beyond retirement. This goal is most likely to be accomplished, as law enforcement professionals successfully overcome emotional obstacles preventing personal progression, realize their unique intended purposes on this earth and ultimately experience the joy of sustained progressive levels of achievement within, outside and beyond the law enforcement career. Please review our training outline located under the training tab. If you are interested in scheduling a training course for your organization, please contact us by emailing Josh@healthebadge.com.
We assert no claims of grandeur. In our pursuit of knowledge and understanding in this realm, we have found reoccurring themes communicated by numerous scholars, as well as law enforcement and leadership professionals. The wisdom of these truths provide peace, understanding and purpose to our lives. It is our intention to add our unique perspective to the realms of emotional resilience and emotional mastery, asserting the belief that originality can yet be integrated into these topics, as we assist law enforcement professionals, including leaders and their families, overcome obstacles inhibiting success. This project has been constructed with the intention of synthesizing existing scholarly and professional material with our own analysis, including personal and professional insights. Equally important, the common themes, insights, inspiration, and hope derived as result of interaction with law enforcement and military veterans, connects clinical scholarly research with the humanity in all of us.
Motivation drives our behavior. This venture is inspired by love. No other phenomenon could provide the pure intentions necessary to create a truly authentic work, capable of communicating the urgency we feel to lift you, our brothers and sisters, in the noble work unique to your life missions. After years of professional and personal experience, synthesized with academic study and much pondering, we remain convinced that the origins of all good deeds in the world can be traced to human compassion. Although the cynical among us may not comfortably discuss the love motivating their dedication, we cannot deny it. We assert the love we feel fuels our willingness as law enforcement professionals to sacrifice personal safety and endure emotional burdens, in the hope our efforts will lend meaningful assistance to our fellow men. In turn, this outward facing focus provides meaning, nourishes the soul and delivers fulfillment.
However, while immersed in the noble quest to rescue our neighbors, we have sometimes neglected each other. This endeavor constitutes our attempt to invite our brothers and sisters to consider their own emotional, physical and spiritual well-being, and resolve to fortify it, because even courageous law enforcement professionals require rejuvenation. We invite you to join us in our mission to support, educate, and ultimately heal the brave men, women and families of our law enforcement community.
Joshua Browne, M.P.S.
Founder & CEO
Joshua Browne is the founder of Heal the Badge Consulting. His professional experience includes twenty years of police service, both with the San Diego Police Department and West Valley City Police Department (Salt Lake County, Utah). During his police career, he has functioned as a patrol officer, field training officer, detective, patrol sergeant and detective sergeant. His educational experience includes a Bachelor of Science from Excelsior College, as well as a Master of Professional Studies in Security and Safety Leadership from The George Washington University. While leading Heal the Badge Consulting and in conjunction with the continuation of his law enforcement career, he currently functions as an adjunct professor within the Master of Homeland Security Program at The George Washington University, as well as a visiting professor within DeVry University’s Justice Administration Program.