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John Violanti

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Dr. John Violanti is a respected faculty member of the Law Enforcement Wellness Association. Dr. Violanti conducts clinical research on a host of law enforcement health and wellness issues for The University of Buffalo Department of Social and Preventative Medicine. In addition to his research, Dr. Violanti has written and edited several books relating to law enforcement stress and trauma including Police Suicide; Epidemic in Blue, Police Trauma, and Post Traumatic Stress Intervention. In addition to his work with The University of Buffalo, John is an Associate Professor within the Department of Criminal Justice at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

Dr. John Violanti has "been there and done that." He retired after 22 years of dedicated service as a New York State Trooper. His knowledge of the law enforcement culture and the stress and trauma experienced by law enforcement officers make his books and articles must reading for those within the law enforcement profession.

In a review of John Violanti’s book, Police Suicide: Epidemic in Blue, the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin stated, “Does living life inside a uniform put an individual at a higher risk for self-destruction? Perhaps, if its wearer becomes psychologically unable to reach out for help or take help when offered. Individuals disguise depression, alcohol abuse, and personal fears and demons easier than people realize, especially those individuals who are trained to keep their feelings out of sight. Recognizing this, in the last chapter, the author discusses the needs of survivors of police suicide (i.e., spouses, children, fellow officers, and friends). By tackling this delicate subject, the author proves that Pogo was wrong when he said, "There is no problem too big you can't run away from it." The author's advice and direction in this area could help to ameliorate the complicated bereavement and grief suffered by the survivors of suicide. This book deserves a wide audience, from police officers and their families to police administrators and mental health professionals.”

According to the book description of Police Trauma: Psychological Aftermath of Civilian Combat, “The police fight a different kind of war, and the enemy is the police officer¹s own civilian population: those who engage in crime, social indignity, and inhumane treatment of others. The result for the police officer is both physical and psychological battering, occasionally culminating in the officer sacrificing his or her life to protect others. This book focuses on the psychological impact of police civilian combat. During a police career, the men and women of police agencies are exposed to distressing events that go far beyond the experience of the ordinary citizen, and there is an increased need today to help police officers deal with these traumatic experiences. As police work becomes increasingly complex, this need will grow. Mental health and other professionals need to be made aware of the conditions and precipitants of trauma stress among the police. The goal of this book is to provide that important information. The book¹s perspective is based on the idea that trauma stress is a product of complex interaction of person, place, situation, support mechanisms, and interventions. To effectively communicate this to the reader, new conceptual and methodological considerations, essays on special groups in policing, and innovative ideas on recovery and treatment of trauma are presented. This information can be used to prevent or minimize trauma stress and to help in establishing improved support and therapeutic measures for police officers. Contributions in the book are from professionals who work with police officers, and in some cases those who are or have been police officers, to provide the reader with different perspectives. Chapters are grouped into three sections: conceptual and methodological issues, special police groups, and recovery and treatment. The book concludes with a discussion of issues and identifies future directions for conceptualization, assessment, intervention, and effective treatment of psychological trauma in policing.”

According to the book description of Posttraumatic Stress Intervention: Challenges, Issues, and Perspectives, “Since the 1980s, posttraumatic stress intervention has focused primarily on “psychological debriefings” to help prevent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While debriefing is said to be important, mental health professionals are uncertain about outcomes, and there is agreement that debriefing may be somewhat hindered by its pathogenic nature rather than being a positive method for preventing trauma stress. This book demonstrates the need for alternatives to the prevailing model of posttrauma prevention, providing the theoretically and ecologically sound intervention that facilitates recovery and growth in those who have faced adversity.

By concentrating on alternative ways of thinking about patterns of interaction between people and adversity, the adoption of a salutogenic paradigm for conceptualizing, researching designing, and delivering effective trauma intervention is advocated. This paradigm offers opportunities for intervention to mitigate traumatic stress reactions, develop resilience, and to establish necessary individual and organizational resources. In addition, the following topics are also examined: the integration of traumatic experiences, brief prevention programs after trauma, the effects of traumatic disclosure on physical and mental health, the values of writing and talking about upsetting events, hardiness as a resiliency factor, and work-related traumatic stress. This book will be useful for disaster workers, emergency worker counselors, police counselors, mental health professionals, and any group or individual that works with people exposed to trauma. The ideas described herein will add to the repertoire of those who seek to help others.”

According to the introduction of Police Retirement: The Impact of Change, “For the police officer, retirement is far from the end. Eligible for retirement at mid-life, police officers are faced with the difficult decision of staying in police work or returning to civilian life. Police officers also face a problem not found in other occupations: the difficulty of separation from the brotherhood of policing. Civilian life can bring a feeling of fear and isolation and to many retiring officers leaving is similar to losing a family. They are no longer "one of the guys," in there helping with the battle against crime, and they yearn to be part of the action once more. During that first year, officers may find themselves wondering why they ever left the job. An older officer once said: "You can't get the job out of your system. Forget it."

Other perils of the civilian world await after retirement. There is the matter of finding a job. Some officers may think it is simple to find work but it is not. They find themselves taking anything that happens along, even a minimum wage job. Income is lower after retirement, and the retired officer no longer has benefits like medical and dental insurance. Some may think they made a terrible mistake in retiring from police work.

The experiences of retired officers emphasize the need for preparation prior to leaving police work. Officers tend not to plan retirement, but wait for some special insight to tell them when to leave. Many times, I have heard the comment from other officers: "you will know when your time to leave comes." Unfortunately, insight alone does not make a successful retirement.”

Sergeant Andy O’Hara, California Highway Patrol (ret.) said of Police Suicide: Epidemic in Blue, “John Violanti has, with "Epidemic in Blue," written a definitive, precise book on police suicide. I highly recommend this as must-reading for anyone involved in police administration or in police suicide prevention training programs. It's refreshing to read a researcher who approaches the confusing subject of police suicide without first forming a conclusion and then researching the evidence.

Directly and analytically, Violanti walks us through the muddle that police departments themselves have created by their reluctance or refusal to acknowledge the problem and/or share data with researchers. Without realizing they are doing their officers a gross disservice, agencies continue to deliberately misclassify even the most obvious cases of suicide as "undetermined" or "accidental." This travesty, borne out of the antiquated view that police suicides caused by the trauma of the job are "disgraceful," robs us of the very information we need to effectively treat the problem.

With great candor, Violanti also addresses the tragedy of retiree suicides, which increase tenfold, and explores the lingering trauma as well as the deep sense of loss and separation felt by the now-civilian officer. He takes on the issue of domestic abuse, so often ignored in police families, and explores the increasing phenomenon of murder-suicides taking place in the police culture.

Additionally, the author explores, with both chilling and heart-warming commentary by Teresa Tate of SOLES (Survivors of Law Enforcement Suicide), how departments treat the survivors of police suicides. Too often, police departments continue to stigmatized the widows, refusing to assist at all in funerals, and denying officers permission to attend in uniform. Forgotten is that this was an officer who died from the pain and trauma of the job and is as deserving of a hero's farewell as any other fallen comrade. Violanti offers an excellent set of departmental guidelines for supporting survivors, dealing with the media, and addressing the grief of the squad. Finally, it was encouraging to see the author supporting the concept of improved cadet training to prepare cadets for what awaits them by providing them an insight to reality and, most importantly, giving them the tools to face trauma before it happens. This is crucial. As Violanti points out, "From the very first day in the police academy, recruit officers are told that they are someone unique, far different from the average citizen and certainly beyond psychological harm." This has been compared to the concept of "unique invulnerability" found in adolescents, and to refuse to adequately balance this with some realism beyond fluffy dog-and-pony shows is to continue the Prussian tradition of sending out young officers totally unprepared for the trauma to come--and without the resources to manage them. There is much more in these 174 pages. It should be on every administrator's shelf, carefully read and dog-eared.”

Police Suicide: Epidemic in Blue (American Series in Behavioral Science and Law)
John M. Violanti  More Info

Police Suicide: Tactics for Prevention
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher Ltd  More Info

Who Gets PTSD?: Issues of Posttraumatic Stress Vulnerability
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher Ltd  More Info

Police Retirement: The Impact of Change
John M. Violanti  More Info

Managing Traumatic Stress Risk: A Proactive Approach
John M. Violanti  More Info

Traumatic Stress in Critical Occupations: Recognition, Consequences and Treatment
Douglas Paton  More Info

Police Trauma: Psychological Aftermath of Civilian Combat
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher Ltd  More Info

Posttraumatic Stress Intervention: Challenges, Issues, and Perspectives
Charles C Thomas Pub Ltd  More Info

Promoting Capabilities to Manage Postraumatic Stress: Perspectives on Resilience
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher Ltd  More Info

Sergeant Andy O’Hara, California Highway Patrol (ret.) said of Who Gets PTSD?: Issues of Posttraumatic Stress Vulnerability,  it “contains research by Violanti, Paton and others on why many police officers suffer full-blown PTSD and others do not. The book looks at trauma types, frequency of exposure, personal, event and organizational influences for keys. "From the moment the police officer enters police work, the socialization process molds him/her into depersonalized relationships and a myth of indestructibility. The effect of trauma, with its ensuing surge of emotions, devastates this myth. Excellent advanced reading for instructors, peer officers and others involved in police mental health programs.”

According to the book description of Police Suicide: Tactics for Prevention, “The range of information in this book is broad and offers strategies and tactics that may help to prevent suicides. It was written by several skilled and caring professionals, and it was their aim to give law enforcement officers, administrators, and mental health professionals additional information and skills in dealing with law enforcement officers in crisis. It will be interesting and useful to those who would read it with the intention of understanding this dilemma faced by law enforcement and who have a desire to continue the search for possible solutions. The book contains far more than that which would usually come to mind concerning the subject of self-destructive behavior. Its main focus concerns such diverse and very important areas as the police culture, the supervisor’s role in intervention, departmental denial of the problem, getting officers to seek help, family issues, and survivor issues. All are intended to get the reader closer to being able to identify officers who may be in harms way, offer solutions to those who seek help, and hopefully prevent police suicides. Only recently has the identification of police stress and the subsequent counterproductive behaviors been exposed and accepted within the culture. We have learned that the police occupation is different from all others and that it is all right to be different. This new understanding may also provide a potential remedy for some of law enforcement’s greatest ills: alcohol abuse, family abuse, and the subsequent consequences. It is the hope, therefore, that the information in this book will prevent future suicides and even reverse the thinking that leads to such life-ending decisions. It is a "must read" for law enforcement officers, probation and parole officers, supervisors, mental health professionals, educators, criminal justice students and professors. It is complete and well researched; a cooperative effort, not a competitive one; a journey of discovery and hope.”

About the New York State Police

In 1913, a construction foreman named Sam Howell was murdered during a payroll robbery in Westchester County. Because Westchester County was a very rural area then, there was no local police department and Mr. Howell's murderers escaped, even though he identified them before he died.


 his vicious crime spurred Mr. Howell's employer, Moyca Newell (left) and her friend, Katherine Mayo (right), to initiate a movement to form a State Police department to provide police protection to rural areas.


As a result of their efforts, the State Legislature established the New York State Police as a full service police agency on April 11, 1917.


Since the first 237 men rode out of their training camp on horseback to begin patrolling rural areas, troopers have been there to fulfill the law enforcement needs of the people of New York State with the highest degree of fairness, professionalism and integrity.


During the 1990s, the New York State Police focused on three primary objectives: dealing with the rising tide of violent crime, much of it drug related; increasing cooperative ventures with local law enforcement agencies to more efficiently and effectively provide police services to the people of New York; and preparing for the challenges of the rapidly approaching 21st Century.





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