Here is what people say about Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement:
“Keeping our police officers spiritually strong is as critically important as, if not more important than, maintaining a high level of physical fitness. Thank you to Rabbi Friedman for offering guidance on this spiritual topic of caring for our police officers.”
– Todd Wurschmidt, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police
“This book, Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement, prompts our law enforcement community to think about the issue of Spirituality as it directly relates to our Twenty-first Century holistic approach in meeting the comprehensive needs of police officers throughout the world. ... You have performed a wonderful service for our law enforcement community with this book!”
– Robert E. Douglas, Jr.
Executive Director, National Police Suicide Foundation
“Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is the missing piece of the puzzle of the Behavioral Sciences Triad. There is a lot written about the mental health professionals and the peer counselors, but virtually nothing, until your book, about the spiritual aspect of the Triad. I recommend the book when I speak to law enforcement audiences.”
– Kevin Gilmartin, Ph. D.
Author, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement
“Wow! What a superb book! My brother, with this book you have sent forth a major ripple of hope! … You have crafted a book that will help ALL police officers in their struggle to serve justice in a world that is too often dark and confusing. … In this book you have helped to guide warriors along a path to that vigorous, robust why that can survive any how. … From the spiritual to the practical, this is a book that provides life-changing and life-affirming resources, and I unhesitatingly recommend and support it.
WELL done, my friend and brother warrior-healer!”
– Dave Grossman, Lt. Col. (ret.) US Army
Author, On Killing and On Combat
Director, Killology Research Group
“As an outspoken Christian law enforcement chaplain, I can find much common ground and value in my good friend Rabbi Cary Friedman’s Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement. He has done worthy service for officers by probing beyond their physical and emotional survival issues to confront the more fundamental spiritual challenges they face. He walks the fine line of validating their worldview (thus earning credibility), without caving in to the “dark side” of cynicism that afflicts so many. He then carefully crafts practical helps too often missing from generic treatments of these issues.
To his practical understanding he brings a traditional “natural law” perspective - a perspective too often lost in our post-modern politically correct world. While honoring diversity of belief, he expertly lays the common ground on which we should all stand in our (America’s) historic understanding of God, our shared “civic religion” of God-given law, clear moral thinking, and high idealism, and applies these well to the world of the law enforcement officer.
Thanks for your contribution, Cary!”
– Chaplain Stephen C. Lee, M.Div.
Executive Director, Peace Officer Ministries, Inc.
“Rabbi Friedman’s book is an excellent resource for those seeking or providing religious guidance. His message of tolerance and respect for all religious beliefs is a vitally important one. Police Chaplains will find his checklist of how to be a good police chaplain an important reminder of their proper role.”
– Alexis Artwohl, Ph.D.
Author, Deadly Force Encounters
“When police officers are caught up in the everyday struggle of catching bad guys and saving lives, often they seem to forget that they are more than physical beings. They are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, and what they do down here counts for something up there. In Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement, Rabbi Cary A. Friedman reminds police officers that they are made of stuff beyond this existence, and when they see the worst of society, senseless beatings, child abuse, rape, and murder, the physical world will not help them cope. The physical world will not end their despair and hopelessness, but the spiritual world will. The oneness, the connection with God, will give them purpose and a reason for being. The why they exist will give them the inspiration to cope with and thrive in a world gone mad. Every police officer on the planet will benefit and grow from reading this beautifully written book. They will discover who they really are inside and find peace and comfort.”
– Allen R. Kates, BCECR
Author, CopShock, Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Co-author, Gifts My Father Gave Me
“You are a God send in reaching out to the law enforcement community with your message of Spiritual Survival. It is obvious that you have a heart for police. ... In your book I find a refreshing attempt to look at the officer as a whole person. ... You do a very good job of addressing issues which all police officers face and need to face regarding balance in life. In particular you draw their attention to the need to have spirituality as a survival tool for the police career. ... There is much food for thought in the book and you discuss all the right issues pertaining to physical health, emotional health and spiritual health in making a “top cop” all he or she can be. I commend you for your good work. The book is a good counseling tool.”
– Jim Hammond, President
Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers
“Rabbi Friedman is to be commended for his wise and impassioned efforts to promote the spiritual health of police officers. His book
will prove useful to both law enforcement personnel as well as the clergy who minister to them.”
– Dr. Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain, NYPD
“Your book, Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement, is awesome, and will be a total blessing to whoever reads this book. God’s Favor upon you for such a wonderful tool for Law Enforcement.”
– Rev. Kenneth N. Crawford
Chief Chaplain, Los Angeles Police Department
“I want you to know that reading your book, Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement, was an inspiration to me. If I had the ability to write a book this would be the book I would like to have written. I only wish you had written it a long time ago so that I might have stayed spiritually centered. Thank you very much!!!”
– Supervisory Special Agent Joe Harpold
Instructor, Behavioral Science Unit, FBI Academy [retired]
“I want to thank you for this book. It’s perfect. I will be distributing Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement to many good people in law enforcement.”
– Father Mike McCullough
Chaplain, LAPD and FBI
Executive Director, Desert Refuge, Los Angeles
“Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is very well written and easy to understand. … I am certain that this book will be an important resource for many people.”
– Katherine W. Ellison, Ph.D., M.Div.
Author, Stress and the Police Officer
“Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is a great book. I believe that you very clearly articulated what we as police chaplains attempt to convey to police officers in the field. I think Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is a must read for all Law Enforcement officers.”
– Rabbi Sruly Wolf, Police Chaplain
Cleveland Safety Forces
Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Law Enforcement Ministries, Cleveland, Ohio
“Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is excellent, and also a good resource for everyday burnout. Your spiritual discussion is indeed inspirational. I have no hesitation in recommending your book to any police officer.”
– Roger M. Solomon
Critical Incident Recovery Resources
“Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is about a side of law enforcement that is too little addressed: the spiritual void that often crops up in a profession in which we see so much evil, and in which we see our efforts at doing well frustrated by the “justice” system. He shows that spiritual health and emotional health are different things, and that spiritual health is not the same as religiousness. He explains why spiritual health is necessary to avoid the darkness, the cynicism, and the depression that we too often see in LE veterans. And he shows readers several practical ways to pursue it. This is not a soft, squishy feel-good book, but one that tackles a very real problem with realistic advice. Recommended.”
– Ralph Mroz
Training Director, Police Officers Safety Association
“What is law enforcement service? It is a calling, as with medicine and the clergy. Evil is near, police see it often. Good is even closer; do not ever forget how to know and feel it. Rabbi Friedman’s Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is a fresh look at a imeless message that is food for the soul of all who serve and those who love them.”
– Neil S. Hibler, Ph.D., ABPP
Police Psychologist and retired Special Agent
Diplomate in Clinical Psychology
American Board of Professional Psychology
The Special Psychological Services Group
“[T]his book ... is about spirituality, not religion, in the Police World. In a tough and sometimes dark world, this book is ESSENTIAL reading material -- not only for the Families, but also for the Officers.”
– Mrs. Stacey M. Chambers, President and Founder
Spouses of Troopers On Patrol
“From 1975-1985 I was a deputy councilman for the City of Los Angeles, and one of my specific assignments was as liaison to the Los Angeles Police Department for the City Council. I came to know and develop friendships with police men and women and came to understand some of the special psychological and spiritual issues that challenge this noble profession. … I’m sure your words will guide many of the “fraternal order” of law Enforcement personnel, and I am honored that my father’s name appears in the dedication of this work. God bless!”
– Guy Williams, Jr.
“Your book, Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement, is a fine contribution for police officers.”
– Adam West
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Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement has been featured in:
The ILEETA Review (Volume 1, Issue 1)
GunOwnersAlliance.com (December 2005)
International Social Science Review (Volume 80, Numbers 3 & 4)
American Police Beat Magazine (January 2006)
POSAI Newsletter (Police Officers Safety Association, Inc.)
Law Enforcement Product News (January 2006)
Sheriff Magazine (March - April 2006)
IADLEST Newsletter (April 2006) [Int’l Assoc. of Directors of LE Standards and Training]
FLEOA’s The 1811 Newsletter [Volume 128, Number 2] (March 2006) [Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association]
PERF’s Subject to Debate Newsletter (October 2006) (Police Executive Research Forum)
RCMP’s The Gazette (October 2006) [Royal Canadian Mounted Police]
Police and Security News (November 2006)
NLEOMF’s gift shop [National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund]
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The ILEETA Review
Volume 1 Issue 1
Book Review Editor: Guy Rossi
Book Reviewer: Brian Kinnaird
“Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement” provides a careful exploration into the spiritual nature of the policing profession. This book distinguishes itself from others by its sustained attention to the topic of spirituality without a connotation to religion. As a result, the book presents a general, healthy corrective to the pervasive notion that every law enforcement officer experiences (or will experience) a “dark, lonely world of suppression” by nature of the business. “Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement” provides a reasoned and passionate presentation of spirituality as a necessary ingredient for survival in a nation that needs its law enforcement officer.
While it would be easy to criticize any book for what it has left out or given slim summary, this book appears to have provided a reasonably even and well-balanced coverage of the “essentials” while retaining a relatively user-friendly size. The chapters cohere well, but can stand alone: an important point for an officer or trainer who needs to pick and choose in order to fit the book into his or her personal time.
This book contains seven chapters, each emphasizing the spiritual dimension into the role of the contemporary law enforcement officer. Highlights from each indicate the strengths of this book:
In Chapter 1 “Why This Book is Necessary,” the author acknowledges the stressors and emotional pitfalls that encompass the life of the law enforcement officer as well as the subsequent effects that take shape following short and long-term exposures. From this, the author explores the notion of spiritual vs. emotional health as a state of wellbeing that must be manifested by the officer. As he says, “Emotional health involves ensuring that one has the ability to process and work through experiences and stimuli. Emotional health refers to one’s ability to recover from those experiences and stimuli in order to be able to respond later in other situations in an appropriate manner” (p. 7). Spiritual health, on the other hand, allows one to “step outside of oneself and connect with something external to, and higher than, oneself” (p. 7). Chapter 1 concludes by stating that spirituality does not equal religion and that the reader may enjoy the benefits of the book (and thus nurturing spirituality) with or without such connotations.
In Chapter 2 “The World of the Spirit,” a brief tutorial on theology is provided, as the author examines a non-denominational, religious perspective on life and law enforcement. This is the only chapter that explicitly conveys religion-based language but can easily be applied as a “template” for the development of the reader’s own philosophy on spirituality.
Chapter 3 “The Spiritual Dimension of Law Enforcement” and Chapter 4 “Faith and Spirituality” provide the context for which spirituality is the backbone of law enforcement and the central point of development for the law enforcement officer. It is within these chapters that the reader-officer is asked to examine their own self-concept and to answer the question “why did I enter this profession?” “The goal of any system of spirituality—religious or otherwise—is to infuse a person’s life with transcendent value and meaning” (p. 33). It is from this context that one explores the dimension of law enforcement that requires a value system that must be fostered and maintained like no other job or career path. The author ends Chapter 3 by explaining the value of spiritual health via awareness, clarity of motivation, and the basic symbolism of the profession.
Chapter 4 discusses what the author considers as the three components of faith: faith in God, faith in humanity, and faith in self. After a brief yet powerful examination of these components, a very interesting metaphor is presented by the author in which faith is compared to a bank account where spiritual “deposits” are made (as well as spiritual “withdrawals”). The idea is that one who fails to replenish one’s faith in God, humanity, or self via spiritual deposits, the account goes into overdraft and, eventually, spiritual bankruptcy. “The law enforcement officer hits bottom, exhausted, dispirited, feeling betrayed, adrift without anything to believe in” (p. 50).
In Chapter 5 “Tools for Renewal,” the book concludes with a culmination of tools to be used for what the author calls “spiritual renewal”. It is in this chapter that the author provides fundamental ways to create (or rekindle) our spirituality. The author offers 24 tangible strategies that the law enforcement officer can participate in for reinvigoration and restoration of the spirit. “The goal, of course, is not to restore youthful, naïve idealism. A better goal is to replace the cynicism and hopelessness and despair that took the place of youthful naïve idealism with mature, wisdom-filled idealism and with belief in the same values with which you came to the job” (p. 53).
Chapter 6 “The Role of a Good Chaplain” supports strategies for those who are already chaplains and may perhaps be working with a law enforcement officer, an agency, or may be a law enforcement officer, themselves. The author offers excellent insight based upon years of service in the profession to support the spiritual well-being of the officers that they work (or will work) with.
Chapter 7 provides the book’s summary and brings the entire concept of spirituality in law enforcement full-circle. It explicitly conveys the central ideas and provocative thoughts that drive the book from start to finish and allows for an easy, effective transition to completion.
Summarily, and having already taken into account the content, the writing in this book is clear and reader-friendly. Interestingly, each sentence contains a wealth of information and those with good reading skills will love the way that the author conveys the information with great economy of words. There is also an impressive list of other books available by this same author that may be of interest to those who have read “Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement”.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Brian A. Kinnaird, Ph.D. serves as Chair and Professor of the Department of Justice Studies at Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS. He is a former full-time law enforcement officer and current reserve deputy. Dr. Kinnaird is a charter member of ILEETA and is an author, researcher, and trainer in the use of force.
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International Social Science Review
Volume 80, Numbers 3 & 4
Rabbi Cary A. Friedman presents a simple case for why law-enforcement officers need to cultivate and strengthen their spiritual awareness and religiosity (religion is treated here in a nondenominational context). The book is written almost as a manual that presents a step-by-step procedure for attaining that goal. It is well understood how important it is to have police officers who are emotionally stable, because – in so far as they are guardians of the public’s trust – it would be impossible for society to function if they are unable to control their emotional responses to the stresses they encounter. Friedman’s purpose is to demonstrate that maintaining one’s spiritual health is as necessary and important to an officer’s overall career as emotional health is to his/her daily job performance.
The author presents a brief refresher to basic theology in the introduction that is easy to understand, and not necessarily prejudicial to either Western or Eastern religious tradition, although it most certainly is not at odds with Judeo-Christian teachings. Next, the book’s thesis is argued and continually reinforced throughout the text. That thesis states that it is absolutely necessary for officers to be aware of the connection between the execution of the officer’s daily duties and the public’s trust that good will triumph over evil. This elevates a police officer to the status of a symbolic figure who represents all that is noble in the human spirit. This expectation becomes a burden that can only be carried if the officer is sufficiently motivated to do so, and the motivation must be regularly nurtured, refreshed, and recharged. Friedman concludes with a series of exercises aimed at strengthening an officer’s spirituality, building his/her character, and reinforcing coping skills.
Friedman builds a powerful argument for visualizing law-enforcement officers as priests of the secular religion (who enforce the constitutional law of the land) in the same way we view clergy as priests and ministers of ecclesiastical religion (who enforce God’s laws). This parallel is especially exemplified by the notion that a law-enforcement officer’s job description is spiritual – not only because it is inseparable from society’s moral values and expectations that evil cannot be allowed to prosper and thrive, but also because the job specifically requires that this person be willing to die to protect the moral values of the public he/she is serving. This is a sacrifice unique to law enforcement that is found in the job description of almost no other (nonmilitary) career field.
Owing to the starkly contrasting moral values of the “clients” he/she is continually exposed to (i.e., the criminals), the officer’s mental conflicts concerning justice and equality (and temptation) can most efficiently be resolved through a practiced regimen of spiritual exercises, which are outlined in detail in the conclusion. If these conflicts are not resolved, as the author demonstrates, career failure, manifested in officer burnout, may quickly follow.
Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is a precise, convincing, and necessary contribution for any justice professional; it draws on resources from FBI Behavioral Science Unit archives as well as FBI papers describing the emotional well-being of law-enforcement professionals. A welcome absence from the book are controversial “church vs. state” issues that would otherwise distract the readers from its thesis. However, the consistent reference to law-enforcement officers in the masculine ignores the fact that many (highly successful) law-enforcement officers are women. This is a clumsy annoyance, the author’s apologetic disclaimer notwithstanding.
John Stuart Batchelder, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
North Georgia College & State University
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The Eighteen Eleven
Professional Journal of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA)
Book review by Juan E. Albornoz – Book Editor
Is there a religious or theological perspective to law enforcement? Rabbi Friedman, the author, believes so, if you compare our profession to others. He argues that law enforcement is different because agents’ and officers’ every day acts are infused with transcendental values and meanings. These values are the spiritual weapons that we take with us when we operate near the center of serious social conflicts, the breaking of the law, the endangerment of society, the pursuit of destructive behaviors and philosophies.
Friedman believes that there exists a clear continuity or connection between the two laws that give our society its organization and positive orientation: Man’s Law and Divine Law. The respect and the just and fair enforcement of these laws allow our society to exist in relative harmony. While he admits that other professions do have spiritual values and motivations, Friedman sees law enforcement as unique because: “[The officer] makes a monumental decision: He swears not just to die for those values – although he is prepared to do that, too, if that is necessary – but, even more, he swears to live for them.” [p. 32]
The book is worth reading in its totality, but if you happen to be a skeptic or slow reader, I highly recommend Chapter VI, “The Role of a Good Chaplain,” (Friedman’s eight commandments for a good chaplain win a prize), and Chapter VII, “Conclusions.”
He introduces the description of what the job of a chaplain is by telling you what it is not: “It is not to proselytize. And it’s not to undermine the legal system or create conflicts of loyalty.”
Thus, Rabbi Friedman’s first mandate for Chaplains is unequivocal: “Support the spiritual well-being of the law enforcement officer with whose care the Almighty has entrusted you.” [p. 75]
Yes, our spiritual well-being is often ignored by our peculiar police culture and by us. Rabbi Friedman’s thoughts – infused with kindness and thoughtfulness – are welcomed; they deserve a fair discussion among us.
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Subject to Debate
Newsletter of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
Book Review Written by:
Richard Mayer, CLEE, Chief of Police, Athens, Ohio
2003-04 President, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police
Gary Vest, Chief of Police, Powell, OH
2006-07 President, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police
John A. Peach, Chief of Police, Kent State University, Kent, OH
While Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement does not take the position of any one religion, it presents individuals with the concepts of “connecting with something external to, and higher than oneself.” Rabbi Cary A. Friedman addresses this important area regarding a police officer's spiritual response to his sworn duties, which generally has not been addressed before. It is an area of great importance to many officers and the concepts contained in this book are extremely useful in maintaining a healthy life in this stressful occupation. Therefore, it is recommended that one should not read and study this excellent tool with the purpose of comparing it to their religion. Rather, one should apply the concepts to their own faith and determine how that faith can best nurture and sustain them throughout their career.
Rabbi Friedman’s book allows all readers to reflect on their own spiritual condition and the importance of keeping it strong so that responses to the trials in their lives and jobs will be at a higher and nobler moral level. This book does not cause those with strong spirituality to abandon or question their faith, but rather strengthen their spiritual vision as to their role as a law enforcement officer. More importantly, it relays the importance of being spiritually formed (and thus optimally fortified to perform well), respecting the human dignity, and understanding an officer’s true responsibility as a “peace” officer.
We enjoyed reading this book. It may not be in total synchronization with our own Biblical beliefs, but the truths and tools for maintaining a healthy law enforcement lifestyle are readily evident and some of them are ones we have used for years. As Christian believers, we struggled with the concept of a generic “external to and higher than oneself” relationship. However, this easy-to-read book provides an invitation to explore the spiritual aspect of our existence without proselytizing. Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement provides investigative leads that encourage the reader to identify with his/her own spirituality. Officers young and old alike may greatly benefit by revisiting the high ideals that first brought them into the law enforcement profession.
We would recommend this book to any law enforcement officer, family member or chaplain. The book can help new officers better prepare for and respond to the difficulties they face. It can help the older officer get back on track and revitalize their career or reinforce the positive efforts they are making to keep their spirit healthy. The choice is up to each officer: keep healthy and survive, or ignore the need and perhaps falter.
For the three of us, we extend our compliments to Rabbi Friedman for opening the door to this critically important topic.
For more information about the book, visit http://www.spiritualsurvivalbook.com/
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Rabbi R. Mermelstein
Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement:
In 1971, I was enrolled in a two-year junior college after graduation from high school. My major was Police Science with a minor in English. The plan was to complete the two-year college with an Associate of Arts degree, transfer to a four-year college to pick up a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, and by then be 21 years old and eligible to apply to the Los Angeles Police Department where I had hoped to make a career of keeping safe the streets of this city and putting bad guys in jail.
There was only one problem. LAPD at that time had a height requirement of five feet, eight inches. My growth spurt came to an abrupt halt one inch short of that vertical length. No amount of time spent on a medieval torture chamber rack would correct this deficiency, a physician assured me (though I was willing to try it if there was even the slightest hope). That was 35 years ago. I moved on to pursue “alternate education.”
Judaism teaches that everything happens for a purpose. Would I have spiritually survived interacting with the least desirable members of the population without becoming an embittered, cynical, burned out shell of my younger, idealistic self? Would my future, as yet unplanned, marriage survive the strain to which a patrol officer is subjected on a nearly daily basis? Would I have found solace with a good book or with a bottle of Scotch whiskey (or far worse) after getting off shift? Would I have abused the authority of my office out of pent of frustrations, needlessly hurting or possibly killing a human being?
For me, at least, these questions are today wholly academic. For those currently working to protect and serve the members of their communities, though, these questions are anything but academic. Many law enforcement officers suffer deep psychological pain as a result of what they’ve seen in the course of their work. The majority continue to perform their duties in a professional manner and according to the book. The public is only aware of a problem officer when he makes the news. By then it is too late. The officer needed assistance in overcoming a negative attitude brought on by the death of his spirituality and forgetting why he became a law enforcement officer in the first place, but he either kept his own counsel and didn’t seek help from the department chaplain or didn’t have the tools to administer regular do-it-yourself tune ups.
Rabbi Cary A. Friedman of Linden, New Jersey, has put forth a huge effort to give the law enforcement officer those tools. I belief his efforts will not merely bear fruits. They will save souls and careers. In his newest book, Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement, Rabbi Friedman has packed into eighty-seven pages a blueprint that any officer, regardless of his religious beliefs or total lack thereof, can review regularly to rid his mind of negative, destructive thoughts and renew those ideals that originally drew him to a career in law enforcement.
Rabbi Friedman’s credentials to address this topic are far more than adequate. They are, in a word, impressive.
Aside from his work as an Orthodox Jewish congregational leader, Rabbi Friedman was Chaplain at the Federal Corrections Institute in Butner, North Carolina. He is currently a consultant to the Behavioral Science Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Rabbi Friedman’s insights into law enforcement work are profound. He correctly and forcefully argues that religion and spirituality is not synonymous: A law enforcement professional can adhere to spiritual principles without professing a belief in any faith. He writes, “Law enforcement officers are the priests of the secular religion (“law”) even as clergy are the priests of the ecclesiastical religion (“Law”). One group is in law enforcement; the other, in Law enforcement. And the two concepts, law and Law, are -- historically and philosophically – inextricably wrapped up in each other.”
This principle is the premise of Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement: The police officer is actually engaged in spiritual work, whether or not he realizes it, and acting as the agent of the Almighty to impose order, even through the use of force when necessary, in the midst of potential chaos lurking wherever human beings live in groups.
Scripture recognized by Jews and Christians alike bears this out. Deuteronomy 16:18 states, “You will appoint judges and officers in the cities that the Lord, your G-d, will give you according to your tribes, and they will judge the people righteously.” Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki -- 1040-1105 C.E.), the renowned commentator on the Bible and most of the Babylonian Talmud, explains that judges hear disputes and decide how the law is to be applied; officers are enforcers of the courts’ judgments -- even given the latitude to enforce judicial judgments using force if the situation requires it. It is a sad but inescapable fact that force is the only language a few people understand.
Through all this, however, the officer must retain and maintain his own humanity. He is entrusted by the public at all times to be mindful, even when grappling on the pavement with a violent lawbreaker, that this is spiritual work. So how many clergymen do you suppose would stay in the field if a few times a month one of the church or synagogue services erupted in a brawl and the congregation’s spiritual leader was expected to take a punch in the face? Yet, this is exactly what we ask of our law enforcement officers: “Get punched and kicked, don’t lose your temper, use the least amount of force necessary to arrest the belligerent, bring him in for fingerprinting and booking, lick your wounds, and go home and have a lovely evening (or morning)! Oh, one other thing. Replace that torn uniform with money from your thin paycheck before showing up at roll call tomorrow, would you please?”
In retrospect, I truly believe G-d Almighty spared me a set of teeth ground down to the gums by frustration and aggravation when He stopped my growth at five feet, seven inches.
For those outstanding men and women with patience and a sense of professional detachment greater than mine who have chosen a career of law enforcement, Rabbi Cary Friedman’s Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement can be a lifeline to a buoy of sanity. Concise yet extraordinarily thorough without one unnecessary sentence, this book should not be in the home of a law enforcement professional. It should be in his or her briefcase, duty gear carry bag, or wherever it can be instantly available for those times when the officer is second guessing his or her momentous decision to risk life and limb in order to protect and to serve.
Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement is available from Compass Books, found online at www.spiritualsurvivalbook.com, or by mailing a check for $19.95 + $5.00 shipping and handling to Compass Books, Dept. SSLE, P.O. Box 3091, Linden, NJ 07036. Email for Rabbi Friedman can be addressed to SSLE@spiritualsurvivalbook.com.
The thought occurs to me that while Rabbi Friedman’s intended audience is made up of police officers, anyone in any profession will also benefit from reading it for one good reason: Behind the badge and the sometime stern demeanor is a human being with feelings just trying to make a difference. The people that the officer has sworn to serve often need to be reminded of this truism.