Have you ever wondered why the police officer who pulled you over for a routine traffic violation may appear to be so brusque or guarded?
I recently completed reading the book Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Kevin M. Gilmartin, Ph.D. Dr. Gilmartin spent twenty years working in law enforcement before beginning a consulting career as a behavioral scientist.
In his book, Dr. Gilmartin describes how law enforcement officers, while they are on duty enter into a state of hypervigilance. He describes hypervigilance as “the necessary manner of viewing the world from a threat-based perspective, having the mindset to see the events unfolding as potentially hazardous.”[i]
He provides the following example as to why hypervigilance is necessary. “Offices are exposed every day to a series of unknown events, any one of which could be perfectly harmless or lethally dangerous. Officers have to guess which event is safe and which event is lethal. An officer can make 10,000 traffic stops and 9,999 are perfectly safe; however, one can take his or her life – the officer just doesn’t know which specific one is lethal and therefore must approach all 10,000 as potentially lethal.”[ii]
Contemplate this with me for a moment.
E.V.E.R.Y. time an officer makes a traffic stop, is dispatched to a domestic violence call or responds to any other seemingly routine request for a cop, it could become lethal. The very nature of their profession requires them not to be just “alert”, nor just “vigilant” – but to engage in hypervigilance. Their very life depends on it. Their spouse depends on it. Their children depend upon it.
Here are two very real and recent examples. On October 29, Deputy Sheriff Dan Glaze of the Rusk County, Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office was killed while investigating a suspicious vehicle. On October 28, Police Officer Myron Jarrett of the Detroit Michigan Police Department was struck and killed by a hit-and-run drive while assisting other officers during a traffic stop.[iii] According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 15 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty in October for a year to date total of 109.
I want to exhort you as an Adopt-A-Cop prayer partner to “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;” (Colossians 4:2, NKJV). Vigilant prayers are prayers that are keenly aware of the dangers and threats that our law enforcement officers face. Vigilant prayers are earnest prayers for their safety, for their families and for them to have wisdom while on patrol.
Yet, our prayers are to be vigilant with thanksgiving! Let’s remember also to be thankful for their service, their training and that they are willing to subject themselves to hypervigilance so that we may live with a sense of security in our communities.
I close with an encouragement for you to inspire others to do the same by sharing this on your own personal Facebook page or Twitter feed. By, “sharing”, “liking” and “retweeting”, you are not only spreading the news about Adopt-A-Cop you are also showing your support for your local law enforcement agency.
Remember you can purchase Adopt-A-Cop encouragement cards that include a specific THX card from the resource page on our website.