Chicago, IL—Being a cop here can bring on incredible pain and suffering. There is the avalanche of verbal and sometimes physical abuse from suspects. There’s always the constant reality of placing yourself in danger responding to radio calls.
If it’s not the low level of humanity you must deal with everyday it’s the threat and fear of swift and draconian departmental discipline that can put officers under the gun.
Cops must never show fear, or appear to be stressed out. Cops have no choice but to put up an act that masks reality. If a suspect smells a cop’s emotional blood he will walk all over him or her. If the department sees anything too emotional manifested by a cop he will be disgraced and sidelined.
Cops become very proficient in hiding their emotional suffering, fears, depression and general anxiety.
I can’t help but think about Chicago policeman Bill Cozzi. He was verbally abused by Randle Miles who was very combative in a hospital emergency room. Miles was already restrained in a wheel chair but it did not prevent him from spitting on Cozzi.
Cozzi whacked Miles a few times in retaliation with a leather sap. Since Miles was not noticeably injured by Cozzi, the physical assault was what we call an insulting or provoking kind. That was caught on tape and today Cozzi is serving a 40 month federal prison term.
Was Cozzi suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome as a result of being a cop? Does anyone really care? The truth is, that mitigation factor was never weighed because Cozzi would have had to admit to a stigmatizing mental disease. It came to making a choice of being called a criminal or a nut. However you call it Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome played no minor part in this event.
Cozzi was a real candidate for duty disability as the professionals would have called his assault on Miles symptomatic of mental illness brought on by simple occupational hazards.
Cozzi at a minimum should have received punishment less than incarceration and certainly putting him on duty disability would have made more sense than prosecution and imprisonment. Cozzi should have been allowed to rest and even be returned to duty at some point.
Cozzi’s family was saddled with many tens or even hundreds of thousands in legal costs for both local and Federal prosecutions. Cozzi’s life was destroyed as a result of all the aggregate punishment and disgrace.
Suicide among cops is high and it’s easy to understand why.