Webinar presenter Obed Magny answered a number of your questions after his presentation, The Importance of Mental Tenacity in Policing. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Do you recommend that first responders seek help from a credentialed first responder counselor?
Obed Magny: So, the answer, that’s a really, really good question. The answer is yes, and it depends. Here’s what I mean by that. So, for example, remember the earlier slide where I talked about the young men in Louisiana, who talked about race issues, and so on and so forth, right? If and for those who don’t know, I am a black man, if I’ve got issues or if I’m dealing with some stress related to race. So, let’s say my department. I feel like I’m being undermined because you know, I’m black, or because I’m a woman or this and that, I might want to talk to a therapist who understands that. So, if I’m a woman, I want to talk to a therapist who understands what it’s like to be marginalized as a woman in the workforce. It doesn’t matter if we got law enforcement spirits and not, I want to talk to somebody who can understand my issues per se, if my issue is specifically related to policing or something, maybe I saw a dead body or something like that. You might want to talk to somebody who has some experience in that field. So, that’s where I was going with all, it’s not a monolithic thing across the board, right. You want somebody who’s an expert, somebody who can speak to firsthand knowledge of firsthand experiences that you’re going through, and they can give you that help, that, you know, those resources that it is that you need so that you can overcome, and be better at it in the future. So, it doesn’t specifically have to be with law enforcement. But if it is something that’s specific to, you know, you personally, or personal and professional or a mixture of both, you have to find one that fits for you.
Audience Question: Most EAP services don’t offer culturally competent and trauma-informed providers. Most are set up for 9 to 5 desk clerks, non-law enforcement. How do you recommend that Command staff overcome some of these challenges?
Obed Magny: I don’t know, Cameron, male or female, but that is an absolutely fantastic question, and I’m glad you asked that question. So, the first thing you do, is, when you contact EAP, alright, because this is, again, I know that agency is the way they set this up, is, they say “Hey, here are the services”, right? So, you contact that, it’s confidential. Will you contact that EAP service, whoever or whatever organization that is? You tell them specifically “I want to talk to a woman; I want to talk to a female”. Or, if you’re Latino, “I want to talk to a Latino therapist. I don’t care if they’re outside the network. You’re going to make that happen.” You have to force the issue, and should you come up with, you know, let’s just say you come up as far as like a barrier or something like that. You addressed that with your organization. If you have to bring it up to somebody in the city, and, you know, I will argue that in 2021 in March, especially when diversity, equity, and inclusion are on the forefront everywhere. There are corporations who are sitting on, so many millions of dollars, they literally can’t even give up a bit away, because they’re like, Hey, diversity, equity, inclusion, okay. Clearly, this is the thing, sorry, our bad, but we were kind of ignore nipper a little bit. We want to address it that, if there’s an organization that doesn’t have that option, I would argue that you even go to the city and say and demand, that you get, that, we get that handled. You should not be coming out of pocket, because they have somebody that’s outside the network, that should be compensated for. So, that’s what I would recommend that you do. And if you need some more information on that, please hit me up, I can, you know, give you some more information on that.
Audience Question: I wanted to share a comment from one of our audience members that I think is really an important comment. She says this has been more than a pleasure. Sadly, I retired before hearing and knowing how important taking care of yourself mentally was. It has taken a year of working out and distressing to off-gas the toxicity at work. Thank you so much for submitting that comment. Obed, any comments, any suggestions, recommendations?
Obed Magny: Cool. I’m being respectful to Aaron and Christina because they know I can talk for days and days with no preparation. So, it’s kind of hard to see a picture when you’re up close, right? So, if you ever go to an art gallery, and you’re like one inch away, you only have a perspective that you can see and it’s kind of hard to really, truly appreciate the rat race, okay? Until you remove yourself from the rat race. This is why purpose is so important, and what’s important to you, is that important. And to address that in, thank you for that kind of words, I truly appreciate those kind words. This is what you’re seeing today right now. You see people getting out of policing. And forgive me, I’m not even going to address the issue that we have some states where you’re not even allowed to lateral one agency to another, even if you wanted to without going through the Academy all over again. You’ve got people saying, you know what? I’m not even going to go to the private sector. I’m just going to go out here, I’m going to start my own business. That’s what’s happening right now. And this is where I was going with the today’s employee is not yesterday’s employee. This is not a knock on yesterday’s employee. Today’s employee is more open to EAP. They’re already seeking it out, and they’re already saying to themselves. This is a buyer’s market, not a seller’s market. You, the police need us more than we need you. If we’re coming in, these are some basic job satisfaction expectations, and if organizations are like, you know, you can go jump off a bridge, but we’re going to tell you what to do. The example that I gave with the military where they proactively come and help you out to put you in the position of success. This is another compound fracture, alright. That we’re seeing in policing today. Sixty percent of you guys just said your agencies aren’t even pretending this is an issue. That’s a problem. That’s a problem. That’s why I’m doing this webinar. That’s why I’m offering this help to so many of you guys in this room, and this is, this has already been addressed in, we’re not doing enough of it, to be honest with you. So, thank you for those kind words.
Audience Question: Where is the hope for our profession with the negative societal viewpoint of us, organizational obstacles, etc.? How do we entice any viable candidates to our profession?
Obed Magny: Donald, that was a man. I don’t know who’s paying you guys to answer these questions, but these are some fantastic questions. So, Donald, the first thing is the mindset has to change. Doctor Cornel West said this best, you cannot lead the people unless you love the people, okay? So, if I’m in patrol or from a frontline supervisor, right, and I’m doing whatever I can to try to get people to get into the profession, but obviously, you just see what’s on social media and everything else. The first thing you have to do is acknowledge the problem. So, if you’re talking to a prospective candidate, for example, right? And you say to that candidate, you know, we’ve done some messed up things in policing. There are some crucial conversations that are not taking place that need to take place. But you know what? I know that you see a lot of the stuff that’s going on that stuff. And I feel your pain. So, you have to recognize that other person’s apprehensions to this, you’ve got to acknowledge the fact that it’s valid because it’s valid. If you had a son or daughter, they were like, “Oh, I want to be a police officer.” “I don’t think you want to get into policing, you must be out of your mind,” I know those are conversations taking place right now. You’ve got to reframe it in a way that there is an opportunity. Not this is a challenge, look at it from the perspective of opportunity. Remember that previous slide? The visualization. The self-talk, it’s tough out there, no doubt about it. But this is an opportunity. This is an opportunity right now, for everybody in this audience to say. You know what, we can make EAP a mainstream thing. We can make EAP so mainstream that agencies that might even require that you go see a therapist every year not because we think there’s something wrong with you but just to make sure you’re good, and if you need some extra time to do whatever it is you need to do to get your mind right, that’s cool, too. But making it overt and intentional that we are taking care of your mental health because of not just the bad stuff that we see up in the street, but also the things with social change and reform and so on and so forth. So reframe “Everything’s tough” and reframe it to, “This is an opportunity for something better in the future.”
Audience Question: Any advice for law enforcement officer candidates? All of the information on this webinar was super helpful, but do you have any advice for those of you who are those of us who are hoping to get into this field?
Obed Magny: The short answer is get into it, make sure you’re getting into it for the right reasons because we all get there because we want to help people. And it’s not going to be easy, even as we talk about the in the age of reform, in the age of defunding the police. And what does that even mean? We still don’t even know what the definition is, right? Whether it’s abolishing it or is it the re-allocation of resources. We’re still working on that right now. I cannot overemphasize this enough. You’ve got to make sure that you, as the individual understand, are you following your life’s purpose? If you’re following your life’s purpose. All of this stuff that’s going around that you have no control over. I’m not saying it’s just noise. I’m not saying ignore it. But understand that you have to persevere, and you have to just work through it. Bring somebody whether it’s in your academy or LinkedIn. You can reach out to me if you want to have a one-on-one conversation over a webinar. If you’re looking for a mentor, there are plenty of us out there. You know who would love to be mentors to you guys out there in the academies. You know, if you’re looking for somebody to reach out to, you got my information right there in front of you, just holler at a brother.
Audience Question: I’m a 15-year female police officer. I’m an all-in therapy kind of person. Unfortunately, therapy is reactive and doesn’t get started until people have reached their boiling point. What do you think could be implemented in police departments to get ahead of things? What are your thoughts on real tangible help that doesn’t come off as cliche?
Obed Magny: Thank you for the question. Number one, that’s a great question. The slides that I showed you with me wearing an external fixator I think is probably the best metaphor, right? You don’t have to wait until you get a broken wrist. You can say to yourself “you know what, I can climb this rock could lead to bad, but you know what? I’m just not going to do that”. And then you relate that to policing, I’m going into a profession where I’m going to see dead bodies, a violent crime in progress. You saw the slide that I showed earlier where Chief Magnus from Tucson talked about his officers witnessing a woman commit suicide in front of the officers and the trauma that they’ll never unsee. They’ll never un-experience that, right? The slides where I talked about positive self-talk, visualization, meditation, all of these things. There is nobody on Earth. Well, it should say, the United States will keep it here in the US. But, generally speaking, nobody goes into policing, thinking, “Oh, I’m just going to show up today, and nothing bad’s going to happen, I’m not going to see or experience anything traumatic, just blow it off, it’s no big deal.” This has to be day one, all through somebody’s career, and so that’s why I’m specifically talking to be, you know, leaders in policing, in this audience. Make sure you guys are being proactive about this, very proactive about this. So, my advice would be, in other words, don’t wait until it’s too late. You can do preventative maintenance right off the bat. That’s why people get oil changes on their cars, they don’t wait till they’re driving on the freeway and the engine blows up on them, you do whatever you know. You get an oil change every 3000 miles, to prevent these things from happening. So, whether you do it through your own insurance company, personally, with your own doctor. You’ve got to take that proactive stance. And making sure that that’s okay if your department doesn’t have anything available to you already.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of The Importance of Mental Tenacity in Policing.