We’ve all seen or heard the posts and comments, cracking jokes about the lazy police force and their love of donuts. However, a plea from a police officer in the UK asks the public to take a moment to reconsider the events leading up to that much-needed break.
It’s one of the most stereotypical associations that we make today in the United States – that of the overweight police officer and his love of donuts. It’s a stereotype that author Michael Krondl explored in his book ‘The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin’. In it, he wrote, “Graveyard cops in the forties and fifties had few choices. They could pack lunch, pray for an all-night diner on their route or fill up on doughnuts.” It’s a relatively new stereotype that most historians agree only dates back as far as the years following World War II.
Today, however, the stereotype has turned into one of judgment, used to insult our law enforcement officers and shame them when they are found taking that much-needed break. Before you go making a snide comment or laughing at the ‘lazy officer’ who is obviously slacking on their duties, PC Jade Hunter from the West Yorkshire Police asks that you take a moment to consider the moments leading up to their break. After all, that one short coffee break may be the mental health moment that they need after an incredibly difficult call.
She put a plea out on Twitter on December 15th following a particularly difficult call. Hunter responded to a call about a three-year-old girl suffering from cardiac arrest. She describes the situation at the start of her post, saying that she and 5 colleagues arrived, the ambulance was already on scene. Unfortunately, the girl didn’t make it. Let that sink in for a moment, as part of their job, PC Hunter and her colleagues had to witness the loss of a beautiful little girl that day. It’s the darker side of the job that no one ever talks about… Until now.
Food for thought 💙 pic.twitter.com/cNmPUBvqOa
— PC Jade Hunter (@WYP_JHunter) December 15, 2018
Hunter went on to explain that this is an example of the more difficult side of the job. Everyone thinks about catching criminals, cleaning up the streets and bringing peace to the world, but what about the times when police are faced with the harder moments, the ones that remind them that life isn’t fair and that ‘good’ doesn’t always win?
It’s the moments like this one that we desperately need to talk about more often. Why? Because talking about the impact this job can have will open the door to address the mental health needs of officers following the harder calls. Last year in the United States alone 140 police officers committed suicide. That same year, 46 were fatally shot – meaning that American police officers are over three times as likely to take their own life. It’s a startling statistic.
“So next time you pull up at a local coffee shop or fast food restaurant and see a couple of police cars, please don’t post on social media that we’re ‘having a tea break’ or ‘skiving’. You never know what kind of situation we have just attended and dealt with, sometimes we need 5 or 10 minutes to gather our thoughts,” explains Hunter. “The public’s safety is our number one priority and it’s often that after jobs like these we are right back out there dealing with the next situation that comes in. However, we’re only human too. Please don’t penalise us for having feelings.”