Since the untimely death of Craig Tiger and the ensuing Vote of No Confidence by both PLEA and PPSLA, we have received dozens of e-mails from within the department, from retirees and from around the country with regard to not only the Chief but his callous attitude but the PTSD issue as well. Many officers who have suffered in silence with this issue have quietly come forward thanking us for our efforts in bringing PTSD out into the spotlight. One thing is for sure; there is still a heavy stigma associated with PTSD and PTSD related issues in law enforcement. What follows is an e-mail that was sent into the PLEA office mail account from an officer who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. Their message follows:
I think you will understand after you read what I wrote why I am keeping who I am quiet. You are all doing a great job and what this sad excuse for a Chief is doing is garbage. If you choose to use this, great. If not, I understand.
To My Police Chief,
I write to “my Chief” because you seem to like to refer to yourself quite a bit as “your Chief of Police”. I had little respect for you to start with. I now have none. Any person who needs to refer to one self in the third person is completely as Joe put it, a megalomaniac.
You may wonder why I am not identifying myself in this letter. Frankly, it’s because I am scared to. I do not trust this department and especially those that run it, i.e. “my Police Chief”.
I am writing today to bring to light some disturbing things that have been going on with the Phoenix Police Department. Yes, a lot of it has to do with the recent events that happened with Craig Tiger. I knew Craig. I worked with him. He was a great man. “Our Chief” has been on the news lately stating there are services available to those that need it.
He has also been on the news as of late stating that he “cares” about “his” officers.
Tell me if anyone can, has there been one ENS directing anyone where to get help in regards to what happened to Craig? Anyone come out and say if your upset or distraught here is where you can go to get help? There hasn’t been. And do you know why?
Because no one cares. Especially our Chief.
I am a veteran of the Phoenix Police Department.
Many years ago I was involved in a situation where a suspect opened fire on me. I was not hit. I could not return fire. I did not have a shot. If I had fired there was a strong possibility I would have maybe hurt or killed an innocent person because my backdrop was a neighborhood and a major roadway. I made the decision to take cover and call out what was happening. The suspect fled. We eventually caught him. I questioned everything I did that day for a while.
Not one person on the department ever bothered to ask me if I was OK after it happened. I guess since I was not hit or did not fire back I was somehow automatically not affected by the events that could have ended my life.
I thought so too. Then something unexpected happened. I began to have nightmares. The nightmares happened nearly every night for over a year, maybe longer.
I lost track of time to be honest. It felt like forever. I would have nightmares of being shot. I would wake up sometimes in tears, short of breath and shaking. I would get nervous if I ever found myself in a situation similar to what led to the shooting when I was back at work.
I powered through though, cause I needed to stay alive. I told a few people I worked with what was happening. You know what I was told? Its normal.
Well I can tell you that it did not feel normal. I also felt discouraged that no one even gave a damn to see if I was OK after that night. What was I supposed to do? Demand help? I already admitted that I was having nightmares almost every night and still no one seemed to care.
I became worried that I would not be able to tell if something was happening to me, that I was changing and did not realize it. I asked my significant other to please tell me if they saw a change in me and I promised to seek help if they did.
Later I was involved in another situation that angered me. I responded to a call of a 901X (suicide) where the subject was trying to kill himself with a knife.
I will spare all the details but needless to say it was a legit call and I later found myself in a knockdown drag out fight with the subject. I was trying to stop him from killing himself.
I could have probably been justified in shooting him as we were fighting over his knife. He was trying suicide by cop. I questioned myself again for a long time after that one too.
Here was the worst part. I had been in a fight for what felt like forever. When it ended I was covered in his blood. It was violent and the subject was badly hurt. He lived. I walked outside and the fire department hosed me down to get the blood off of me.
Again, no one bothered to check and see if I was OK, or give me an update on whether or not I was exposed to something from the subjects blood. It was disturbing what happened and I never forgot it. I sought out my own medical treatment to make sure I was OK.
You know what else I did not forget? The sergeant who told me to take my patrol car, go home, put on a clean uniform and get back on the street because I was needed.
How long do you think it took me to get the images out of my head of the blood bath of a fight I was in?
The department didn’t even offer to clean my uniform. When I inquired (and filled out the necessary forms) and turned in my bloody uniform I was instead told to use “color safe” bleach.
With the recent events that happened with Craig Tiger I have heard many people come out and say that most Police Officers at some point in their career will develop some form of PTSD.
I am not here today to tell you I have ever had PTSD or some form of it.
What I do know is that I am better today and the nightmares are gone. I am better today because after other things I had going on in my life I was convinced (and so was my significant other) that I did need help. I knew the one place that would not give it to me so I did it on my own.
However I had the luxury of keeping my medical benefits which made it a hell of a lot easier to get the help I needed. A luxury stolen from Craig by “Our Chief”.
That is what I am here to tell you today guys and gals. We are on our own. In the same breath of how “Our Chief” talks about Craig’s termination he calls him a criminal and how he considered the “totality” of the circumstances. What totality is that? The DUI? The attempted suicide that same night? I am going to AGAIN ask the question we are all waiting for an answer on.
What was the totality? What was it that led you to fire Craig (who asked for help) but give other Officer’s a second chance who also received DUI’s.
I will tell you all what the totality is and its what we already know. Craig got a DUI but he also had PTSD. Our Chief decided Craig was now a liability and got rid of him. You know it, I know it and our “CHIEF” knows it. Now we have the Chief and the media going into Craig’s past trying to make him look bad.
We have “Our Chief” going on the news saying crime is down 7% and that shows there is no low morale in the department. No, what that shows is that every single man and woman on this department has something you do not “Chief”. Integrity.
Unlike you, we have the moral character to do what is right every day because it is the right thing to do. Not one officer on this department would feel good about themselves if they did the wrong thing and someone was hurt or worse, killed.
The same cannot be said about you. We lost Craig and make no mistake it was because you did not have the decency to do the right thing. The thing you knew that was right, which was to help him. Maybe Craig would have done the same thing or maybe not. We will never know. He would have had more of a chance if you at least had done the right thing. Make no mistake “Chief”, you are not wanted here. Anytime work units get word your going to be around, we avoid you.
Crime is down because of the men and women that do the right thing every day. It has nothing to do with you. It is because we have integrity.
And you, you’re a disgrace to the uniform we wear each and every day.