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Mindful : October 2013
October 2013 mindful 45 Hillsboro police officers try mindful- ness meditation. From left, Roberto DiGiulio, Mark Vertner, Kelly Hickman, Kevin Harrison, Kurt Van Meter, and Jeff Branson. “ Everyone hates you,” Slade continues. A hulking 6-foot-5, he’s on the SWAT team and is called out in some of the most volatile situations. Twice in 10 months he was shot at. As he talked, he jostled his leg up and down, nonstop, for almost an hour. Everyone knows this job gets to you, says Ser- geant Deborah Case. But you can’t act like it. “Our culture is such that we’re supposed to suck it up and not be impacted,” she says. And most police institutions still don’t do a heck of a lot to address these issues. At the police academy, Case says, they talk about stress-reduction strategies for maybe 15 minutes. “ You’re told to de-stress by working out,” says Lemen. A lea n and fit K-9 officer, she does CrossFit and triathlons. “It’s weird,” she muses. “I’m still kind of stressed out....” “ We deny ourselves the experience of being human,” says Case. “It’s going to leach out some- where.” That “somewhere” might be a mong their colleagues or while talking to law-abiding citizens. It might be on the street, where some officers are so amped that things escalate more than they should. Or it might be at home, where officers say they have trouble decompressing completely. That ’s what happened in late Januar y in Hills- boro. Police were called to the home of Officer Timo- thy Cannon. The 13-year-veteran had been drinking heavily and was out of control, according to news reports. He was holed up in the house with his wife, his daughter, and a cache of weapons. Over the next hour or so, 10 officers, including SWAT team member Slade, tried to coax him out. He told them he wouldn’t surrender, then threatened to shoot them, according to a transcript of the dispatch call. A fierce gun battle ensued, with as many as 100 shots fired. Cannon ultimately surrendered and was cha rged with 11 counts of attempted murder. No one was seriously injured—at least physically. But to the department, it was devastating. “ We are so impacted by the toxicity of our profession,” says Lieutena nt Richard Goerling, “so consumed by our jobs, we don’t know what to do.” Figuring out what to do has been Goerling ’s long- time crusade—and it’s what has led this suburban police department to some cutting-edge work. Ask Brant Rogers—the soothing-voiced instructor with the ra isins—how he got involved with the Hill- sboro police department and he’ll laugh. →