I became a cop in 1996. In 2001 I switched to a larger agency and spent the next 21 years with that agency. In 2015 I was working as a Detective in our Investigations division. In the spring of 2015, I worked on a murder in which a young mother was brutally stabbed 32 times in a store parking lot in
front of her 7-year-old son. The murder was done by an ex-boyfriend who could not let go of her.
In the summer of 2015, I started having ‘flashbacks’. These were images of cases and calls I had been on since 1996. A suicide in a storage garage. A traffic fatality in which 2 teenagers were killed. An elderly woman was found dead in her bathroom because she had fallen on her heat vent and could not get up and the hot air burned her skin for several days because she lay there. These are just a few of the flashbacks that popped up. There were so many. Some were very legitimate and vivid memories, some not so much, but they were enough to resurface and flip around in my brain.
In 2016, a (police officer) friend from a neighboring agency asked and then recommended I seek counseling. I laughed. That wasn’t for me. I was stronger than that. About a month later, I was having a bad day because I was suffering through multiple flashbacks all day, my wife got home from work, and we argued. The argument ended with her saying, ‘Maybe you do need to get help’. I reached out to our EAP the next day. I met with a counselor, a couple of times. But deep down, I knew I would have this problem licked in no time.
In August 2016, my oldest daughter turned 16. The day after her birthday, it was announced that our division was going to go through some restructuring. It was going to significantly affect my schedule and our family’s lives. It put me in an immediate bad mood. I went home after work and began to drink. Within an hour, I had had three 16oz Coors Lights. I then got a call from my Lieutenant. He
needed me to come to work and handle the suicide of a 16-year-old girl. And, I had to train a new detective that had just joined us. I had never gone to work before while I had been drinking. But I did this night. I don’t know why, but I did. This suicide happened the day AFTER my oldest daughter turned 16, so that hit a little too hard. I got home that night and went straight to the beer fridge, and I threw back a lot of Coors Lights. And I mean, a lot! The flashbacks had started once again during this call-in. Before I knew it, I was looking for a way for the flashbacks to end. How can I make these flashbacks stop? Because honestly, at
this point in my life, they had grown in not only frequency but in intensity too. Aside from the visions, I could smell and taste, and hear. The smell of a dead body. The metallic taste of blood. The sound of a car horn blaring because of the head-on impact that had triggered it. This was the shit that became a
constant in my head. And constant was an understatement.
So, what was my solution to make these flashbacks stop? Well, I’m in the garage. I’m drinking, and drunk. The only logical thing I could think of was sitting in my appendix carry holster. So, I unholstered my Glock 27. I held onto it. I looked at the gun cleaning kit on my shelf and thought that this could easily be explained away. I thought long and hard about this. I can even tell you that the light reflecting off the end of a .40 cal. bullet has an eerie look to it. But I didn’t. I realized that this wasn’t it……today. This wasn’t the time…..today anyway. I also, somehow, told myself that I had only gone to therapy a few times and I hadn’t given myself a chance. I needed longer. Well, that longer turned into 5 years of two visits per month (minimum). My therapist was amazing. She ended up being exactly what I needed.
I am here today because of the recommendation from another officer, my wife, and my checking of my own ego at the door, to get help. My amazing therapist left the practice in October of 2021. In August 2021, I started with a new agency. One that was 5 times larger than where I had come from. Why, you ask? Because I didn’t have long left in my career. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to
accomplish more things. I wanted to do ‘Real Cop Shit’. I still had work left to do to call my career complete. Well, I didn’t have my year on yet and I was in an OIS. I can share more about that some other time. But since my OIS, I found a new therapist. She is literally a guardian angel. Aside from my wife of
25 years, this woman is a new constant in our life. From office visits to text messages. She checks in on me outside of the normal office visits and makes sure that not only me but my wife and family are well too.
Why am I sharing this? Well, I believe in Travis. I believe in what Travis has shared about himself. I also believe that Travis has the ability to change people’s lives with his story of PTS(D) (I). I also believe that if I share this short story or my entire story, that if I can help 1……..just 1 officer, then I have
accomplished something in my lifetime. Something that not only myself can be proud of, but my family can be proud of me too.
With so little of my career left, helping these young officers navigate their way through their career, the shit that they will see and endure, and the asshole co-workers they will run across, if I can help them, then all the other ‘stuff’ I’ve done in my career will be just that…..’stuff’. But hopefully, a lasting impression or providing help and guidance for at least one officer will be the best thing I can ever say I’ve done, for anyone outside of my family.