Taming the Dragons

So, are you an angry cop? No problem, just take possession of your anger before it possesses you.

Finding a well-defined focal point of your anger is important in order to avoid being overwhelmed by poorly-defined emotions.

Mentally isolate that what makes you angry

Being a cop becomes more than just what you are, it becomes who you are. This is as it should be - a career in law enforcement is much more a calling than it is a choice - but the danger of this lies in allowing the whole of your life to consumed by the job. Likewise, a danger of anger lies in allowing it to infect all of the job, all of you, or all of your life beyond the original source of the anger.

So Captain Blohard is an intellectually-challenged autocrat working out his childhood "Mommy-issues" on the backs of hard-working "real" cops? Could be. Just be careful to not let it poison your attitude toward all brass. Police work seems a largely thankless profession dedicated to babysitting people who are lucky they manage to get through each day without killing themselves? Yes, it often seems that way, but never lose sight of the good you do every day and that there are many who appreciate, and even idolize, what you do.

Do not allow what makes you angry to poison everything. Instead, keep your eyes on the good in your world, retreat to it wholly at times, and return later to the fight refreshed.

Seek perspective

In Birmingham they love the Governor. Boo, boo, boo! Now we all did what we can do. - Ronnie Van Zant (1974)

Talk to others. Ask, "Is it just me or is something wrong here?" Try to figure out how large the problem is that is making you angry. Sometimes once we get a new perspective from someone with a different viewpoint, the anger dissolves and the problem seems less important. Other times, we find greater focus, and alliances with the like-minded. Allies can be crucial when it is time to confront wrong and fight for what is right.

Equally important is determining which battles are worth fighting, which are best accepted as unwinnable (and yes, sometimes the best course of action is no action), and which ones are best "shelved" until later. Not all the dragons need to be slain today; leave some for next week.

Get in the game/Become a warrior

Impotent fury rages powerless and to no purpose. - Virgil

We all get angry. Some people prefer to revel in their anger, wrap it around themselves like a cloak, and define their whole being by it. Others take action and confront the source. Which type do you want to be?

Become active in your union or association if you have one, or encourage bringing one in if you do not. Become an organizer for change. Be vocal, either through the spoken or written word, about what is wrong and how it can be fixed. Identify your skill set and determine how it can be used. See yourself not as a victim of that which angers you but as a adversary of it, and then think and act accordingly. Do not allow impotent fury to rage powerless and without purpose, instead find your strength and objectives.

Know when it is time to get help

So far this article has been about empowering yourself to stand up to the injustices and wrongs that hurt and anger you. We are not naive that a lot of you may feel overwhelmed and beaten down, or that forces in your life or at work may be such that our advice so far simply is not enough. We know that once depression gains a foothold it is very hard to shake without good professional help. We also know some of you face harsh management.

Know when you are overwhelmed and when it is time to seek outside, professional help. Know when your anger has become all-consuming, or when it the poison has spread too far. There are excellent counselors who can provide the help you need. Know when it is time to ask for it.

Be safe!

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