A sergeant friend of yours is having a birthday celebration for his girlfriend at a local restaurant, and you’re invited. Your wife accompanies you to the party, and you notice several other couples at the gathering, many of them co-workers, as well as some singles. Everyone is having a good time. Having arrived with a couple of drinks on board before the party started, you are especially enjoying the festivities. Your wife decides to leave early, maybe due to an argument about your drinking.
You stay, believing there is a lot of night left to enjoy. The alcohol you’ve drunk has released any inhibitions you previously had, and you begin flirting and even touching one person inappropriately. You get nowhere with any of your attempts, and it gets to a point where you nearly engage in a fight with the date of someone you previously accosted. Your sergeant friend calls someone to pick you up and take you home. All’s well, right? You seemingly escaped without any problems.
Except … a third party you work with heard about the incident and made a complaint to the Department. Now there’s an investigation, and you’re removed from your nice assignment. Making a long story short, this leads to the Department recommending dismissal on policy violations. Your union rep points out some errors made along the way, but it is not enough to save your job. While you really don’t remember what happened that night, you still argue that the allegations are unfounded; however, you resign in lieu of discharge because it’s the best
option you have.
What a way to ruin the reputation that took you years to build. In just a short time, you went from a stellar career as a respected law enforcement officer to unemployed. I relay this “story” to you because this scenario has played out numerous times over the years. I’ve personally seen this happen, as I am sure many of you
have as well.
The problem is that it will continue to occur unless we check ourselves and watch out for each other. What did everyone else do while this guy was getting hammered and forgetting what he did for a living? Did anyone intervene, or did they just write it off as having a good time? Obviously, our drinking (now former) deputy friend had some issues and was ultimately responsible for his own actions, but it might have been possible to save him from himself had his actions been recognized and addressed earlier.
Take a look at your drinking habits and those of your friends. If any of this sounds familiar, meaning you or someone you know could play one of the roles in the “story” above, think about making some changes or having a hard conversation. If it’s a friend, tell them the truth about their drinking, and if you are on the receiving end of the conversation, consider the source and look at your drinking behavior and the path it might be leading you down.
If you need assistance with misuse or an addiction problem, or you have questions about the resources available, you can call and talk to me or one of our docs at Psychological Services Bureau (213) 738-3500. We have law enforcement psychologists and trained deputy personnel ready to provide confidential help to assist you. If you are sworn, Peace Officers Fellowship is also available. You can contact one of the members above, and they will be more than happy to assist a fellow deputy.