“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls, and doesn't have another to lift him up... If a man prevails against one who is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12)
The passage above speaks to the value of companionship or friendship. God designed us as social beings and those who do or have done law enforcement know the importance of teamwork and camaraderie. We know the importance of having back up. As God’s people we encourage one another to mercy, love, and good works. Two or three people bring enjoyment to work and support one another. Together, they reap greater blessings.
During my career in law enforcement I was involved in several incidents which, as I look back, could be classified as critical incidents including a traffic stop where one of the officers who came to back me up ended up having to shoot the suspect I had stopped. My brother, who was on the same department as I was, became involved in a critical incident where he thwarted a robbery in progress and had to shoot the ‘bad guy.’
For him, it turned out to be a life-changing event, even life-changing for our family. We are a law enforcement family, our father is a retired officer, our sister spent some time as an officer, her husband is currently an officer, my wife’s brother is an officer ... you get the picture.
Yet, it was difficult for us to walk together with my brother as he dealt with the after-effects of the incident. Frankly, we just didn’t know what to say or do. Our department had a pretty good psychological services section – but it wasn’t quite enough. I wish we would have had a vibrant chaplaincy program to help us. And by us, I also mean the family that was our department too.
Below is a list of ten ways in which you can help uplift the officer in need. (I wish I would have had a list like this so I could have been a greater help to my brother.) Here, are some steps to help the officer regain his spiritual tactical advantage. This is very practical spiritual warfare which can be waged on behalf of that officer who needs the encouragement, the comfort, and the security of true friendship and camaraderie; the spiritual back up they will need in the aftermath of a traumatic and/or critical incident.
1) Speak Well – “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)
Words can build up or tear down. In the aftermath of an OIS, Officers involved in the incident should be greeted by chaplains, peers, and their commanders with words of encouragement that show concern, care, and support. “I’m glad you’re okay” will go a long way toward reducing the tension the officer is under. (Also, cf. Romans 14:9; Romans 15:2; Ephesians 4:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)
2) Employ Discretion – “Stop trusting in man, whose breath is in his nostrils; For of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22)
Forego the hero worship. The officer who did the shooting may not feel so heroic, especially if a life was lost. Also, don’t demean the suspect who precipitated the shooting. Let the officer process and come to terms with what has happened; especially his own mind-set toward the suspect. (Also, cf. Isaiah 57:15, 66:2; Proverbs 5:1-2; Colossians 3:2; 1 Peter 5:5b-6)
3) Don’t be the Comedian – “The lips of the wise spread knowledge; Not so with the heart of fools.” (Proverbs 15:7)
It will be tempting to bring some levity to a seemingly unbearable situation. Officers often use “dark humor” as a useful way to cope with the daily mayhem and foolishness they see. But in the aftermath of a critical incident and/or OIS you need to be aware of what the effect of this so-called “cop humor” might have on the involved officer. Calling an officer “Crash Bandicoot” after a serious accident may seem funny to you – but probably not to him. (Also, cf. Proverbs 10:21, 15:4; Colossians 4:6)