Blue Perspective

Sunday, March 18th

On New Year’s Eve 2017, as most of the Denver metro area was preparing to ring in 2018, Deputy Zack Parrish of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department was part of a team responding to a disturbance call that became an ambush.  Deputy Parrish was killed and four other officers and two civilians were wounded.  Within four weeks two additional Colorado Deputies would lose their lives in action.  It is the largest loss of Colorado law enforcement lives in that short a time span in over 100 years. Now, several weeks later, it seems everyone has moved on after sharing Thoughts and Prayers, but what about the law enforcement community?  We decided to find out in a candid conversation with men and women who are closest to it and that discussion, titled “A Blue Perspective”.

We had the chance to sit with four local law enforcement leaders to share their insights.  Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz; Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock; Police Psychologist Dr. Sara Garrido and Aurora Police Sgt. Mike Pitrusu give a look into department morale, how their approach to policing has changed, care of officers and their families and how the community has supported them.  It seemed important to pick the conversation up and I’m crazy proud that we have an opportunity to do that here.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

That I think clarified her family. Welcome to a loon perspective on Colorado today Robert Crandall. Taking an opportunity in the program this week for something special. Ask you to think back to New Year's sees little welcoming the new year at the excitement that goes with all that the celebration. And then there terrific news and Douglas County. As they were getting word that one of their own had been killed. By somebody. Likely determined to be suffering from mental health issues but the first. Colorado law enforcement. The year came on New Year's very first day. Soon to be followed by a second. And then to be followed by a third. And you would well expect at that point that our law enforcement community would be facing some pretty extreme challenges. And with those challenges perhaps an opportunity to grow. An opportunity to grow closer no doubt but an opportunity for us as a community. To rally behind him and support them at this time and learn what we as a community can do different to get. Beyond simple thoughts and prayers but to being really very proactive. And it seems may be some of that has happened. Today we're joined by doctor Sarah garrido serie a police psychologist. Who was closely involved with you're police department after the 720 shootings that theater shootings. And continues to work with them Sargent Mike intrusive with furor police department is the exec officer. Aurora police department chief nick Metz who helped assemble the team that's with us today and Douglas County sheriff Tony spur lark. Each of them an integral important part of this story. And we begin the conversation with them how about we give them a chance to introduce themselves as well so you're familiar with the participants is here the discussion here on the radio station. Go ahead and let us New York a search and Mike pitchers who. Executive officer for treatments police for Lockheed that was gonna share after Sarah garrido with coach for counseling nick Metz chief of police who replaced apartment. Nick in my among start with you first off thanks for for gathering the gang in putting this all together today and I was looking at a statistic earlier this morning and it's I think we're up to a 2223. Law enforcement officers killed across the country already this year. Last year was a 129 I believe at the end of the year. It's it's a trend that continues how we get to where we are right now notes it's kind of interest in when you really look at the statistics. In actuality. Were actually seen a decline in a lot of that decline is because of training. And better equipment and so forth I think a lot of it has to do with the media social media and others taking. Giving this issue a lot more attention that it has in the past I'm in the past if a police officer was killed in Florida. Often times we never heard about it now we are hearing about it I think here's some good and bad without but I think the good part is I think it's good that people in the community your understanding that the risks that our officers go through this the fact that our officers running and when everybody runs out. I think the bad is that people start to think that. Society is collapsing but I think what I've been really heartened to see over these last couple months especially news. Folks like you and others in the community who are really giving greater attention to the issue at hand. And wanting to do something about it. We have been really struggling these last couple months specially in how we he. One keep our officers motivated to want to do this job and give up there and keep doing what he committed to. And also make sure their families are feeling supported and are getting what they need especially returned it. Tobler loved ones goodbye before shift not knowing whether they're gonna come culture. Sheriff's ruler after what happened at the beginning of the year with your department is gone through. Was there anybody in the department that said man I can't do this. Now it did happen we've had two officers. Put us on notice. One wants to transfer to civilian division in my office the other one's going to leave. Seoul week we're already seen and justice last Saturday we put on an event. Which was kind of a healing event informing the employees and we partnered with Castro police department. To really try to head off some of those issues. Because you can see the stress in the officer's face and in his nick said weak our our job really is. Is to make sure that they feel confident that the of the skills and training to go back to work. And make sure that we're sharing with them every briefing so the key Israeli. Stand in front of the stress and trauma that the officers are Phelan every day that their family stealing and that we can assure not only the family. But the officers. You're doing the right things you properly trained keeping an item in the game in and move forward on New Year's Eve and on January 1 it was. Start by it is this thought. I know you've had to talk to somebody yourself here bright whereas this is gone and you know that morning was obviously a lot of things going through my head. And the hospital. I was quickly surrounded by a you know my friends and and and partners nick was there a date Walter the share for apple county. You know immediately came to my side met Packard the collar state patrol chief. Hours into just hours into it I was able to turn to to people like trust and know and say hey. In order way go here I have fifty. Intersections. To turn down I should on the pick one. And and and so getting advice and guidance from folks that had you know past experience but frankly people that I trusted news that had their head. A little bit different in the game and I did given the fact that I was in the emergency room with three officers still being cared for. Com and at the time they were given me guidance I still had Zach perish. In the apartment complex had been rescued yeah that's where I went. I have to give my wife to shout out to only because she was texting mean and and just given me words of encouragement. You know what you do on you know just staying the course. I was able to talk connected to other folks were able to support. Mike is law enforcement officer and the guys in the from the women. As soon as something like this happens with actors what are they think what's interest heaven and its interest in role on our police department were oversee or our wellness programs or physical and mental or emotional wellness programs. And it's it's both a good thing about fame comes the social media aspect in and the bad thing is our officers are inundated with those messages come through social media through the news. Day in and day out when these things are happening across the country. And really it gives them kind of a false sense of the amount of that actually happening compare from your a year what's interesting for us or what's necessary for us to do his. Is to remind them of all the good things that happened with this job and why they got into it in the first place. Bringing them back to why they signed up to do this and what to do with the community and and the amount people in the community to support them. It's great that we're able to do that can provide some programs and do some things when these events happen. But really that happens all year around that it's necessary for us to to build that foundation. Every day of the year when it comes to supporting Nolan officers but the families if you're thinking about quitting. Remember why you got into it to begin work. Right which could applied almost anything in your life and that's exactly what you said there are so many people that come up to us were out there thank us for service and there's been. Just an increase in that and and those of the things we we try to get our people to grab on to as those folks that continue to support us in the community that that are praying for us they're looking out for us com and want us to continue want if you just to India and this is. A blue prospective foreign Colorado today joined by. Sargent Mike Patrice who've you were police department the hero police department chief nick Metz Douglas Kenney sheriff Tony spur like. And from code for counseling doctor Sara garrido. So doctor surgery there are serial listening to him right as the psychologist who's worked with these departments with these men are you hearing what you would hope to years. I am and I smile and I am around these folks because they're all incredibly resilient and and that I think is what we want. Officers remember their families remember me need to remember. It's incredibly sad when we as a lot for nearly lose someone it's it's a family and so when one agency loses a family member. The entire culture eludes a family member and so we grieve together. But law enforcement is one of the most resilient cultures I've ever worked with and it's incredible to see the love. That they have for each other Indians while they grieve and it's. One of the things that I always teach the folks that I work with is you have to normalize that fear of course people questioned. Is this the right job for me and families questioned two Y a lot to be apart of this scary absolutely is scary. And so we have to start there when we lose somebody and say you know what it's completely normal to be scared for awhile to question the job. But what we then want to help people move to is remembering like sergeant Teresa said all of the wonderful things about this job and and forever on to re direct and and to find that person on the mission statement that they have as to why do you do this. And to make sure that they include their family in that communication of why we do this why we bleed blue. It is completely normal and went some folks especially those were closest to the incidents say. I need a minute to process this. And I have all the respect in the world for the people who can say that say you know what I'm not sure the best place for me right now is on the streets I need to be with my family and need to finish processing this. And so I've never I've never had an issue with an agency when I say you know at this person needs a little bit of time. Let them process. And they'll get back to a I have a lot of respect for the agencies that really support. Nick in Aurora we live in a town that goodness gracious I forget how many languages we speak in our town it's a 15060. Some languages. And I respect the fact that it seems like every other day you. Might quit few others from the department are. Need deepen that community meeting people in their churches in their homes in their communities sinners and I'd get it dead with that diverse. Cultural mix that. Every culture has its own impression of law enforcement would be coming from their own experiences where they've immigrated here for and I absolutely so you have to create maybe a little bit. Of comfort he were to get to. It's a constant challenge but it's a fun challenge it is really fun challenge. And I know and I've seen in a chair spur market worked in the same exact thing week. You know we got into this business in many ways because we are social beings we wanna go out we wanna help people we wanted to developed good relationships. We know at some point or another and our communities were going to deal with. The tragedy he real big tragedy. Or we're gonna deal with some kind of major controversy that maybe is a controversy that kind of hits the police against the community Kabila but a controversial off from motion recently that. Those are the times to Google's relationships that time during the crisis we have to get ahead of that I think what I really heartened about you know with the with the agencies here in the metro area is that. They're very proactive. In getting out into the community into which he said we have a lot of we're able to large immigrant population we have people who come here with really different ideas of what cops are based on what they experienced in their culture. In Seoul. We have to go to them in we showed them to know what we're alike in that we can be trusted and that we are. We're good people in order we'd like to have fun and conversely. And it's amazing that win a tragedy does occur when there are some kind of crisis in the community. They will reach out to us that they will come to licensee we we need each. Com and you know that's one thing to me we talked about you know might talked about you know how. In these last couple months. You know. Folks coming to us and expressing support and thank goodness for what we do our. Or are providing in most of the sympathetic messages. That's been happening so much from all parts of our communities of the you know with him very diverse community and that's been really cool to see you don't see them a lot cities. For all three of you. The bad guys have really got armed because I've heard this now work officer involved shootings over or any kind of violence. As happened in a variety of situations right domestic disputes traffic stops to me that's tough. It is and I think that there's always been a large number of weapons in our country. We were founded on our Second Amendment of course. And in we encounter folks all the time with guns and like I said this in an interview and had some people kind of push back coming a little bit but. You know we train our officers to. Anticipate. The worst but treat them as the best and and be prepared. But not and you know aggressive and and I can tell ya I've I've lived in the Denver mature in my whole. Life adult life. And I think that we have great law enforcement all through the metro area. And an ice and I see that all the time that would you know we we run across calls all time with weapons and it's something that we that we just trim our officers to deal with. Any ideas but I don't see. Colorado coming out particularly in the metro area where we have very aggressive. You don't law enforcement stance. As nick has said before I mean he he goes into a lot of his communities where these these folks do not. See them is the same as we see is I see him. And so but they don't go win you know all armoured up they go and look and just like they are right today at with a hand stretched out that and introduced myself. That was that parish was doing right when I read that came out afterwards with. I mean to the end of his life he was trying to help somebody who needed help prep prize the most touching. Part of any body KM. Video and audio. Is watching in. Zach parish knowing after the fact what happened to him. Watching him. And it and it truly was one of those things that's what he was doing he was continuing to reach out to someone at a mental illness for sure. And was trying to news. But I can tell you that. I'm not gonna let that moment passed you know we're gonna share that with every officer of the comes embassy this is what you do this is idea Scully goes. You know I always talk a lot about the officers that are injured. That no one ever talks break the officers who are shot survive. Those via ups to carry tremendous amount that your service exists in her business. That injury and there are not the physical injury but the mental. Bomb goes oh lifetime and so what we've we prepare folks that too. If you just joined says this is a blue perspective part of Colorado today. And we are joined by members of the law enforcement community. Whose hearts souls in daily routine have been changed by events in Colorado this year. Indian previous years joining us at the Douglas County sheriff Tony spur lark. Doctor Sara garrido psychologist with code for counseling sort in my per tree soup from the you're police department. The exact officer to the police department chief nick Matt send. Nick mental health and it's one of the things that pass to be part of the conversation. I've been in this job long time and the demands of what it was was placed on. Mean as a young officer compared to now what the demands are for a officers. It's night and day. You know were constantly seen different social service. Resources diminishing. And people don't know who to call also wanted to call make the call 911. And that becomes the now that were we've become therapists we've become. Counselors social workers doing things that. You know law enforcement didn't do 152030. Years ago. The sheriff brought up what Zach was doing before that shooting and I saw that he was well and this was a guy who went through special training that has only been around. A few years. Here and you know it's it's paying off and it's helping to resolve situations. Much more peacefully. There are we talking about PT EST I think people know that term a little bit you know because of what differed from the military but I commend the pitcher sounds like up to me. Absolutely. They're exposed to an enormous amount of general stress trauma stress like curious from a all of that. On a day to day basis. And our job as clinicians is to help them learn to work through that and it's absolutely possible. Do some get to the point of of developing PT ST absolutely. Sometimes the injury is incredibly great and and the burden they have to carry is incredibly great. So some do you develop PT SD but there's also a balance between what we can do to help them move forward in a lot to we've certainly seen. Officers and multiple agencies that suffer extraordinary injuries. And have gone on to be incredibly valuable members of their department. In whatever role they they take on from there a lot of talk about law enforcement psychology is similar to sports psychology. Once you have an injury sometimes it heals completely and sometimes you know you have the injury for really long time and and things will tweak that injury again. And so something like trauma is similar to that in that my guesses your employee a lot of days feels great and does buying. And that's something trigger it tweaked the injury and and so that no individual then cut passed and it worked through it again. And that again is a normal part of primer country. The more people can understand that that's normal and and seek the resources seek the help that they need to. A system that recovery throughout the entire course of their journey. The batter off and kept doing we have to take a wave that judgment and ashamed that comes with experiencing a psychological injury. Once people realize it's an injury it's going to happen. There are a lot of resources available to help some recover and once they really can can come to terms with that they tend to do better in in the recovery process. I think we've made great strides in that in the off to community over elastic herself becomes the stigma of getting help for your your mental or emotional issues. I can speak for or department we've come along way and I concede that just in the analyst we yours and I've been involved and the number of people will. To reach out for services and you know doctor garrido and those and in her community it it's huge that we have access to them and they're huge assets to our apartment. When when these things happen. I think the well we've noticed even more in the last couple years as. They're huge assets on the front and and and that's world trying to make a difference now it is some programs which stars at the police department. Trying to pars not cure today I'll certainly pitching but she's just kind of run with this from the employs support longest unit. In developing. New programs amber we're trying to get it on the front and in the academy with boating resiliency. Com and having folks like a degree of commitment and teach classes. Alongside of us to these new recruits come in their families. I'm some family academies and things like that just try to build up the the officers resiliency the family resiliency. And and start to build that foundation sold then when these incidents do happen. Won their they're they're a better position to possibly come through it and healthy dumb or at least with a little bit of mitigation or intervention. A hum we can get them back healthy more quickly. It's a long road and it's a big process and I think we're finally getting Smart. Abouts break into pieces and making sure we're trying to cover these folks and their families through their entire career not just once a combat. Guns and before coming to a roar it was with the Seattle police for thirty years when 2009. In eight week period in our metro region. We lost seven officers. When a duty deaths in every single one of those situations except for one they were all ambushes they were. They were attacks on officers simply because we were in uniform not because they work. I think every cop thinks there's that risk by chases bad guy down a dark Alley but just knowing that I'm just sin in my car which happened in Seattle officer was shot and killed. The liquid for pierce county deputy. And when things are really remember was one of my officers it was pass in an office and I heard someone crying and it went in there and was one of mine when officers big guy. His current. And it's only in a calm down Michael what's wrong and he says that this morning as he was getting ready for work. His six year old daughter grabbed his leg aching him. Not to come to work and he literally had to force her off his lake and he said. He is I can't get that out of my head and now I gotta go out on the street and I got to answer calls I got it. Treat people respectfully I got to be alert to what's going on for officers to be as healthy as they cam on the street to be alert. To be professional. There's a strong part of that it has to make sure that we're doing everything we can't support their family. So that women are certainly using altitude family is experiencing resiliency they can leave with some sense of confidence that they're gonna be okay we have fifty. Two officers right now our recruits should sit that are in the academy and we just they just started and I asked him you know. How many you've heard of Zach perish from the if you heard of Keefe come how many of you have heard of deputy flicked in every single one of them raise their hands reach one it was pretty heartening to see that that many people are still wanting to do this job. It's good having you with us today if you just tuned in this is a blue prospective. Part of Colorado today and we've been joined by some wonderful people from the law enforcement community who wanted to share. Their thoughts and insights about what's impacted their community. Three deaths since the beginning of the year practically and a lot of other shootings in town. In here to discuss that Sargent Mike pantries soup but the exec officer you were police department you're police department's chief nick Metz doctor Sarah garrido. A police psychologist with code for counseling. And Douglas County sheriff Tony spur like looking I mean Tony's been about seventy days now I guess them for more and a number. Since the year started the way that it did. How's the community. Now. But you were law enforcement community but Douglas County. They're very caring. We still have. Folks approach necessary we'd like to do a fund raiser we had one on Sunday there's a fund raiser that went through. The three counties. Adams Douglas and I'll pass a counties they're still there they're still reaching out there what can we do. We are now addressing some different things and in directing them to different areas. I'm gonna have lunch with. Gracie perished and talk to her little bit about some things. In the community is still very touched and wanting to help us. I think that it's everywhere I do a lot of business all over the place. I come under their jurisdiction in and have meetings. And the citizens exactly like mcsame citizens to come up to us they have no idea I don't work in the city or Rorer they see blue and they come up eight thanks. I'm in a restaurant he thank you for for caring and in doing your job for us. So the collective community in the metro area is still very very open to law enforcement per supportive. Mike community and Douglas County I couldn't be more blast. They reach out all the time we still get cards and letters and in and it's one of those kinds of things that we share every day and that's what you have to do a butcher doing. I take it to we have an academy going on right now we take those over look what we we had we actually had so many of we started scanning them and we sent them over so they can do some. You know video stuff just a week could share with them say listen the the world's not bet the world's good place to be it. It's the kits I worry about the most right the little ones who were impacted so much by what they see and and they consume so much social media. Kids it is it's a different generation and and there existence is is around social media and so they're exposed to significantly more. They have to deal with significantly more than any of us did. Because of social media and texting and that constant pressure that comes from that. But I think it goes back to what everyone's been saying today is it's it very much requires a proactive approach. And it requires a lot of open dialogue and a lot of communication acting when he how the communication around. What could happen and what would you do if and how would you recover from. Those sorts of conversations. Make people stronger is what law enforcement does their always running scenario ask any of these three in the room they rent scenarios all the time. Of what would I do if this happens and if we can teach our kids that same mindset of what would you do who would you go to who would you talk to. Both from incidence approach and from a psychological approach you create stronger kids. And I think that we're seeing more of that news is schools and parents and communities art teaching a pro active approach. To life and and we have to which kids. What can they do and a court away you know folks that are wearing a blue the folks listening. People that you serve day in and day out. And you know they wanna know how they can help they want another can make things better I think is right any advice for them. Well it's been mentioned several times already in India it can't be. Underestimated the impact it has is just when you see a police officer told them thank you. It's it's easier I think when things like this happen that for some of our officers to think. We're not supported. And then when somebody comes up to them and wants to buy them a cup of coffee or just simply tell them thank you it means a world titles officers sold. I would say at least from a star that's that's huge. They just being good stewards of their communities. I think they can be very impact full on a much smaller scale in their own communities so. Whatever that looks like it's going up to first responders and thanking him for that it's participating in some community event that's going on or volunteering their time. One of the local. Shelters or food banks or something like that in their community that needs that assistance. I think those relationships we build. Are gonna make us make us better in the future. I would agree and I I would say if you were listening to this and you're a teenager or teenager something. If you have a question and you see an officer out walk up to him and ask cops loved answer questions they really do and they like to be approached by folks. And help them and so I would I would encourage do all the things it that has been said that if if they have don't be. Afraid to engage your public servant and don't be afraid to walk up to a police officer NCA AF have a question about this or that. That makes a huge difference to him too because they wanna engage their community and I and I encourage the community again to when they have the opportunity. To serve their community and business BS but you conserving your church as you can serve and community groups. And reach out to someone you know you're a high school kid and you see a kid that's in the corner and no one talks to him. Chorus I took then custard diners at a summit that you don't know. And you name make a lifelong friend for you may help that kid get through that day. And one Protestant. Of our community of Aurora is how the different cultures have assimilated and right we have days like global fast and we have already in the community. If there seems to be that that effort and roared to learn about who these people are to live with this who've who've moved in and I think there's a reason and I'm from Trenton and I think what's great about. Our communities it when you talk about these different cultures some leading. They also want law enforcement to be part of that group as well in the in you know they invite a sin and and. To share your traditional us. The last thing I want people afraid. Law enforcement officers remember growing but much simpler mayberry artist he tried many years ago right where the last thing I would have been. Separated. Hopefully some. We've been joined by some wonderful people from the law enforcement community who wanted to share. Their thoughts and insights about what its impact is there community Sargent Mike intrusive. The exact officers who were police department your police department's chief nick Metz doctor Sarah garrido. We psychologist with coach for counseling. Douglas County sheriff Tony spurt luck and thanks to all of you for joining us today for a loop perspective. Lots of work left to be done isn't there but we're making progress in it was really important we have this opportunity to work from the law enforcement community itself. Just with their struggles challenges opportunities are and how we can be hard. If you miss the beginning or any portion of the interview and would like to listen to it again or if you like the sheriff was somebody. It exists as a podcast to cruise in 1430 dot com. The Breakfast Club. Shall find it right here armored Crandall that's a blue perspective on Colorado today.