Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health Issues

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

September marks National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Law enforcement officers and other first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. According to law enforcement mental advocacy organization Blue H.E.L.P., 105 officers have died by suicide so far this year. In 2021, we lost 179 brothers and sisters who took their own lives, and 186 the year before that. Tragically, 2019 saw the most suicides, with a staggering 248.1

What is the cause behind this troubling trend? How can we get these numbers down? Most importantly, what can we do to support our colleagues who are struggling?

As you may be aware, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) runs rampant in the profession due to daily on-the-job stressors, such as officer-involved shootings, fatal accidents, catastrophic events, repeated exposure to violence and trauma, long shift hours and more. Add to that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-law-enforcement sentiment, lack of support from city and government officials, and recruitment and retention challenges in the past few years, and you have a workforce that is struggling under an untold amount of pressure and stress.

According to the DOJ’s COPS Office, if untreated, PTSD can negatively affect an officer’s well-being and performance of their duties. What’s more, long-term effects of the disease include behavioral dysfunction, such as substance abuse, aggression and suicide.2 It is estimated that between 7% and 35% of officers in the U.S. are affected by PTSD and depression.3

Given these harrowing statistics and facts, it’s plain to see that now, more than ever, officers need to be encouraged by police leaders, colleagues and partners to seek help when they need it — before it’s too late. The stigma surrounding mental health struggles and suicide is unfortunately deeply rooted in our profession, causing many officers to “man up” and ignore or downplay any physical, behavioral or emotional indicators of PTSD. These officers may put on a brave face on the job, but inside, they are suffering in silence. This suffering can manifest itself in many terrible ways.

It’s time to break the stigma around these issues in law enforcement; it’s time to educate our officers on the mental health and wellness tools that are available to them and encourage them to seek them out. Our Department has its Police Employee Assistance Program (PEAP), a crisis intervention/counseling and referral service for employees and their immediate family members. However, if you’re concerned about the potential privacy concerns that Dan Coyne brings up in his article, “A More Discreet Option,” there are fortunately other free resources available, with many tailored toward law enforcement. In addition to the alternative Dan discusses, 911 At Ease International, here are a few more to add to your list:

  • 911 At Ease International: Provides first responders and their family members with access to free, professional, confidential, local, trauma-informed counseling and therapy. Call (888) 283-2734 or find out more at 911AEI.org.
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Offers 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, plus prevention and crisis resources. Dial 9-8-8 to connect with a crisis counselor. For more info, visit 988lifeline.org.
  • CopLine: A 24/7, 100% confidential helpline for officers and their families, answered by retired police officers. Contact (800) 267-5463 or visit copline.org.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a live, trained crisis counselor. For more info, visit crisistextline.org.
  • Safe Call Now: A confidential, comprehensive, 24-hour crisis referral service for all public safety employees, emergency services personnel and their family members nationwide. Contact (206) 459-3020 or visit safecallnowusa.org.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Confidential, 24/7 hotline for military veterans to reach caring, qualified responders with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, many of them veterans themselves. Dial 9-8-8 then press 1, or text 838255. For more info, visit veteranscrisisline.net.4

If you or someone you know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, please refer to the list above for support, or contact your LVPPA representatives. We are available 24/7 to help you through whatever you’re going through. Next time you see your partner struggling or having a bad day, take the time to ask them how they’re doing, and if they need help, encourage them to talk to a mental health professional, peer supporter, chaplain or a trained crisis counselor. Together, we can help our brother and sister officers and ensure that they suffer in silence no more.


References

1Visit bluehelp.org/the-numbers for more statistics.
2Volanti, J. “PTSD Among Police Officers: Impact on Critical Decision Making” (2018). Community Policing Dispatch. Retrieved from tinyurl.com/3t3cddw2.
3Lilly, M. and Curry S. “Survey: What Is the State of Officer Mental Health in 2020?” (14 September 2020). Police 1. Retrieved from tinyurl.com/4hkh9h9b.
4List of mental health resources courtesy of American Police Beat (apbweb.com).

39 Years in the Making

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

In early February, Dan Coyne and I were having lengthy discussions about how to raise money for our LEAF charity. We wanted to come up with some new ideas on how to increase the revenue for the charity so that we could continue to offer the support to the families of our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as expand on our scholarships provided to our members’ children.

While we were standing in front of one of the office staff members’ desks, I saw two old flyers for the Police vs. Fire charity football game from the ’70s. It was then that I turned to Dan and said, “Why don’t we play this game again?” And 39 years after the last game was played, we began down the road of setting up the revised Police vs. Fire charity football game.

As we rolled through this process, we started looking at the history of the game. We were extremely fortunate to have retired officer and former player Roy Chandler come to the office and talk to us about the beginning of the game. Roy provided us with all the available programs from all 10 of the previous games, which were full of pictures and sponsorships for the games. Two of the programs were special to me, as I was able to see pictures of my father, who played in two of the games in the early ’80s. 

We learned how this game began and why it started. Before the first game, a firefighter had a child who was going through dialysis treatment in Utah for their illness. At the time, there was no dialysis treatment at UMC or anywhere else in the state, which forced the fellow first responder and his family to have to routinely drive to Utah to get the treatment for their child.

The two sides came together and formulated the idea for a football game that would be used as a fundraiser to help UMC purchase its own dialysis machine. At the conclusion of the game, they had raised enough money to buy three dialysis machines for UMC. As the game continued year after year, a new charity or charitable issue was the focal point of the game. Over time, contrary to what people have heard, it was not injuries that stopped the game from being played. It was becoming too costly to play the game, and not making enough money to cover those costs ultimately stopped the annual game.

This year, we were happy and excited to be able to restart this tradition and play the 11th annual Police vs. Fire charity football game, with proceeds supporting the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (LEAF), Professional Firefighters of Nevada, the Children’s Heart Foundation and the Bonanza High School football team. We hope this game continues. We know it will! The turnout P# 2704 for the game was amazing, and the sponsors who got on board with us with such short notice were greatly needed and appreciated. Next year’s game will be bigger and better, as we want to create an event, not just a game. Stay tuned for the 2023 Police vs. Fire charity football game!

Police Versus Fire Charity Football Game

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

On May 7 at 7 p.m., members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will play a charity tackle football game against fellow first responders from the Professional Firefighters of Nevada. This game used to be played back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. All the games were very competitive, but over time, the game fell by the wayside and was no longer played. We have been told that one of the reasons the game was played was to help raise money to buy medical equipment for UMC. This was noted as one of the worthiest fundraising efforts between police officers and firefighters in Nevada.

After many years have passed since the last game was played, the PPA and PFFN have gotten together to bring this amazing game back to the city of Las Vegas. Both teams are playing for their respective charities. The winner of the game gets a 60% share of proceeds raised, while the loser will get 40% (better known as fire’s cut). We are also playing for the Children’s Heart Foundation. This group has been a major contributor in helping children who have heart ailments or defects go on to lead great lives. Through P# 12897 this process, I have been fortunate enough to learn that we have several officers on our agency whose children have taken part in the treatments from the Children’s Heart Foundation.

The PPA and PFFN have gotten together to bring this amazing game back.

The LVMPD team is composed of some extremely talented people. Experience ranges from NFL to semi-pro, arena, Division I college, Division II college and high school football. I have had the privilege of watching our team practice, and it is no wonder that all the oddsmakers have made our team a 35-point favorite to win this game. 

The goal for the game is to raise money for our charities and have an amazing time at the event, coupled with some very good football. To get involved, go to LVPPA.com and purchase tickets. We want to pack the stands at Bonanza High School for this game and bring awareness to our charities. We also have a 50/50 cash raffle, which will take place at halftime (winner need not be present). We will be selling commemorative T-shirts for the game as well. Bonanza High School will be selling great food for concessions, and we will even have a shaved ice/Dole Whip station. The first thousand people to attend will be given a commemorative item to remember this amazing event.

You Have My Back. Right, Sarge?

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

I want to take this month’s article to talk about the level of support from a first-line supervisor, and how I have witnessed a downward trend of outward support from sergeants when it matters the most.

I am going to make up a fictional scenario, but potentially one that many of you may have experienced.

Officer A goes on a call for service. Upon arrival, the officer is confronted with a scenario that requires the officer to use some form of force. Maybe it is just hand-to-hand striking or, in the most extreme of cases, the use of deadly force. Whatever the case, the officer notifies their first-line supervisor. The sergeant acknowledges the use of force and responds to the scene. Upon arrival at the scene, the sergeant gets a full debrief of what took place during the use of force. The sergeant tells Officer A that everything looks good and within policy. The sergeant tells the officer to do their blue team and submit it to them.

I have witnessed a downward trend of outward support from sergeants when it matters the most.

Officer A goes back to the station and writes up their blue team. After a few revisions from the sergeant to the officer, a final version of the use of force is completed and approved by the sergeant. The sergeant tells you “Great job out there on this call” and leaves you to have no questions about the incident.

A few days go by and the sergeant tells you that the lieutenant was asking some questions about the use of force. The sergeant tells you that they went to bat for you on the case because they knew everything that happened. Eventually, someone along the line has a problem with the use of force and opens an SOC on you for excessive use of force. You ask your sergeant how this could be and they tell you, “Do not worry about this. I reviewed the entire case, to include BWC, and you were absolutely within policy, and I will tell anyone how I feel that you did nothing wrong.”

Through the investigative process — which often is outcome driven as opposed to fact finding — you get sustained and receive a suspension for your actions. Your sergeant tells you that this is BS and that you should fight it. You agree and get with the PPA, and we launch a grievance. The PPA investigator talks with your sergeant and gets an extremely supportive statement from them about how your conduct was within policy and that they had no issues with your use of force.

A date is then set for arbitration. A few days prior, David Roger meets with your sergeant, as they are our witness, and speaks with them about the case. In this meeting, the sergeant, unbeknownst to you, starts to change their tune a little about the use of force and how maybe you could have done something different, but generally, the use of force was within policy.

The day of the arbitration comes and the sergeant is now on the stand ready to testify. Now, the sergeant’s story changes quite a bit and appears to the arbitrator that they feel your use of force was not within policy and you should have done something different. The case now becomes an absolute loss, and you, the officer, are stuck with a three-year reminder in your file that the sergeant who said they had your back turned out to have no backbone and refused to do what was right under threat or perceived fear of retaliation against them, leaving you standing alone with the minor suspension.

Now this is not the case for every supervisor. There are some who have no issue standing up for what is right when they need to. But for the ones who have the great aspirations of rising through the ranks of LVMPD, they will bend to the Department’s wishes, or, as we have had before, call us a day or two before an arbitration and ask to bow out of testifying.

I hope that this, like many things, changes back to the way it used to be where supervisors cared more about what is right as opposed to doing what is best for them and their career. Time will tell.

The Realities of Recruitment and Retention

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

With last year in our rearview mirror, 2022 is a chance to reset and start fresh after 2021 had many of us limping to the finish line. It’s no secret that the past year was a whirlwind for law enforcement around the country. COVID-19 — and the vaccines, variants and deaths that have come with it — continues to take a toll on our personal and professional lives.

Violence against officers has also reached an all-time high in 2021. It was reported (tinyurl.com/4uh9487j) that over 300 officers were shot in the line of duty as of December 1, including 95 ambush-style attacks — a 126% increase compared to 2020.

Attacks against law enforcement have always been an issue, but the violence is at a level I’ve never seen in my 23 years here at LVMPD.

When you add in the lack of support we receive from some of our politicians and the slap on the wrist many criminals receive for their abhorrent actions, it’s no wonder we’re seeing officers leaving the profession in droves. A recent survey (tinyurl.com/2p983s4j) of nearly 200 departments by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit think tank, shows a staggering 45% increase in the retirement rate and a nearly 20% increase in resignations in 2020–21 compared to the year prior.

All the keyboard warriors and Monday morning quarterbacks have never had to strap on a bulletproof vest and risk their own personal safety for someone they have never met.

Despite what the media claims, law enforcement is still one of the most honorable professions out there. All the keyboard warriors and Monday morning quarterbacks have never had to strap on a bulletproof vest and risk their own personal safety for someone they have never met. Let those people run their mouths in the media because when push comes to shove, real heroes wear a badge. They aren’t actors or journalists or sports figures. The real heroes are the everyday first responders who do a dangerous job to keep our community safe.

As your LVPPA president, I see firsthand all the retirements and resignations, and it gives me some concern that we are losing so many officers so rapidly. The Department, along with the City and the County, should be thinking of ways to incentivize police work even more than they already have. Bringing back longevity would be a great start in that direction, a topic that both sheriff’s candidates have stated they would be willing to support in future contract negotiations. But I am also grateful that every officer who was able to retire on their own has made it safely through this dangerous profession and can now spend their days doing things they have always dreamed about doing.

To all our retirees this year, have a wonderful retirement. You have most certainly earned it.

There’s no doubt we’ve been through a tough year, but we will walk into the new year with a renewed sense of who we are as a profession and why we do what we do. As always, thank you all for your continued membership and trust in the PPA. Have a great year, and please be safe.

End to Another Year

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

I hope this last article of 2021 finds all our members healthy and happy. This has been a tough year for law enforcement, especially for the LVMPD. We lost three of our officers and one sergeant to COVID. I never thought in my 23 years here at LVMPD that we would be losing officers to a deadly disease. As officers, we prepare for dangerous and violent encounters all year long. But this COVID sickness has become a deadly encounter that, in some people, you can not prepare for. We do not know how many more people COVID will take from us, but I am hopeful we can come through this point in our lives in a positive way.

The PPA has been able to start rolling out our usual events for our members and their families with the restrictions easing up on gatherings. We look forward to our first-ever partnership with Opportunity Village for our Santa Day event. Look for the flyer for this event (see page 15), as it will be one of a kind for our membership. We are also happy to roll out our response to New Year’s Eve. Last year, 50% of the Executive Board was quarantined with COVID, and we were unable to do our normal New Year’s Eve experience. This year, health permitting, we will have our normal three stations of food and hot beverages rolled out to support your efforts on the Strip and downtown.

We had several retirements this past year as well. I am always happy to attend our officers’ retirement events, as it means one more officer was able to make it through this career safely and is allowed to enjoy their time free of law enforcement. Congratulations to all of those officers who are successfully navigating waking up when you want and not needing to report to a work shift.

Make 2022 the year of trying the things that scare you the most, whether it’s testing to promote or testing for that specialized unit.

One retirement that is especially important to our membership, as well as to me, is the retirement of Brian Grammas. Brian is my older brother and a person who I have always looked up to in my life. He came to the Executive Board of the PPA in 2017 and has spent the last four years working on our Health Trust, working as our treasurer and assisting members in their IAB interviews, as well as being our expert on the Citizen Review Board. I know he has enjoyed his time here at the PPA, helping members and bringing his sense of humor to the Executive Board, which made coming to work every day enjoyable. Brian will be missed by all of us, but probably no one more than me. Being able to work with my brother has really been an honor for me. We served together in Narcotics, and we serve together now as he closes out his career after 25 years in law enforcement. Please, shoot BG a text or email congratulating him on his retirement coming up December 28. Love you, brother. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. I hope you all continue to strive for greatness in everything you do. Make 2022 the year of trying the things that scare you the most, whether it’s testing to promote or testing for that specialized unit. Make this the year you go for it. There was a movie quote where someone said, “You regret 100% of the chances you didn’t take.” Take a chance in 2022! Thank you all for your membership and continued support of the LVPPA.

The Free College Basics

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

I wanted to focus this article on the application process for the free college benefit program that the LVPPA has secured through a partnership with Washington National. Many of our officers have taken advantage of the program, and hopefully many more will do the same.

To start, our officers need to go to the LVPPA website at LVPPA.com (via a desktop computer, not a phone) and select Members > Free College Benefit. From there, you will be prompted to click on the “Learn More” button, which takes you to the LVPPA Benefits Supersite (mybensite.com/lvppa). This is where the process starts. This page provides a lot of information on the program. It has two links, one for the associate degree program and one for the bachelor’s degree program. For the associate program, you will be directed to Eastern Gateway Community College, where I currently attend. (Go Edugators!) The bachelor’s program will run through the same Eastern Gateway Community College page, but you will instead select Bachelor’s Degree on the top of the home page.

To apply to the associate program or the bachelor’s program, you will be required to first complete some registration information. The next step is filling out the FAFSA form at FAFSA.ed.gov. This is federal financial aid, which odds are no LVPPA member will qualify for due to our income. However, if by some chance you do, the aid money would go to the school. This is the trade-off for free college education through the schools.

Now that the FAFSA form is done and submitted, you will eventually get an email from the school informing you that you can enroll in classes. First, if you want an associate degree that credits your Academy time and/or your instructor development class, contact LVMPD training to get an email copy of your Academy courses as well as your instructor development certificate. These two documents could give you between 30 to 33 credits toward your associate degree in criminal justice. The associate in criminal justice with police academy credit is the only degree program where Academy time can be applied. You may still get an associate degree in anything that the school offers, but you won’t get all of the free Academy credits. You will then email the school your high school transcript or GED. You may also send over other college credits to have them applied.

Once this is done, you can start picking out your classes for the coming semester. You have the choice, through the school’s website, to control what and how many classes you want to take. You must maintain a C average to get your degree.

As I am currently doing the associate program myself, I can say it is time consuming. Some classes are easier than others. Since each semester is accelerated, the school packs 16 weeks’ worth of classes into eight weeks. There is no live instruction; instead, each week/module has reading material, videos and examples. During the week, you will typically need to participate in one or two discussion topics and respond to one or two classmates’ posts. This is how “attendance” is taken. There will also usually be a quiz, test or written assignment due every week. If you take statistics, let me warn you, it sucks! I am kidding. The class was very tough and took up most of my free time during the week, but a lot of good information was obtained.

Hopefully, some of this information has been useful. This does not cover every aspect of the process or experience; rather, it should give you some good guidance on how to maneuver in the online college space. I am entering my third semester. So far, I am very glad I have gone back to school. It is rewarding to me personally, and it is rewarding to my kids, who see me, their dad, at my age, with my busy job and family, still attending college.

Getting an education is something no one can take away from you. I told one officer that while the journey may seem long, time is going to go by regardless of how you feel. In that time, what we put into it is what is important. If it takes six years to get a degree at whatever pace you are working at, six years is going to pass anyway. What you put into those six years is what will count. Give college a try. Maybe it will work for you, or maybe it won’t. However, there are many benefits to getting that college degree, especially as it relates to promoting on our agency.

We’re Still Standing Despite a Brutal 2020

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

I hope this issue’s presidential message finds all of our members and their families safe, happy and healthy. So much has happened in the past year. We have dealt with riots, COVID-19, attacks on our profession from politicians and even the injury and loss of some of our own.

During the riots of 2020, our officers were working more hours than they could count. They were handling nightly protests that often erupted in violence and chaos. Officers’ families sat home every night praying for the safety of their loved ones. Officers were finishing their shifts with cuts, bruises, injuries and a level of fatigue they had never experienced before. They dealt with people screaming in their faces, cursing at them and holding signs degrading their profession. And through it all, our officers maintained a level of professionalism that goes unmatched.

COVID-19 was also in full swing, as well as the rollout of the vaccine. Our officers were some of the only employees in the state who continued to be on the frontlines of the pandemic, working every day and putting themselves at high risk of exposure to the virus. Police work is one of those jobs that cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for a disease to go away. Many of our officers were exposed, and many contracted the virus. To this day, we are still dealing with grievances and negotiations over being forced to quarantine and use your own time, along with other issues related to COVID-19. I am asked often about whether officers should get the vaccine. My answer is the same every time: It is the officer’s choice, plain and simple. The same politicians who say “my body, my choice” believe you should be forced to take a vaccine. I call that being a hypocrite. If you want to take the vaccine, take it. If you do not, then don’t.

Following the George Floyd case, we began to see many politicians across the country, as well as in our own state, attack our police profession. Politicians who have never put their life on the line, or who have never stepped foot in a patrol car for a shift, began saying that police work needed to change. They claimed officers were targeting people of color and had no regard for our minority communities. These same politicians, who have been in office for many years, saying that police needed to be reformed or defunded were the same ones who passed laws to strengthen police rights only a year earlier. These politicians cared not for George Floyd, rather they only care about re-election. I stand by this position, because if police have always needed reform, why wasn’t it addressed in the 2019 session? In our state, why pass the best legislation for police officer rights that we have ever had during the 2019 session? I had conversations with politicians who supported our rights in 2019 call me saying, “Steve, my party is making me do this. I may not agree with it, but I have to.” These people are spineless and have no character. The answer is because they are disingenuous politicians who will do or say anything for a vote. We still have some amazing folks in government who support our police. The 2022 election cycle, known as the midterm elections, will be important to our profession. We must elect folks who support law and order. We need a legislative body that will support the police force in this state. And we need a governor who will stand up for what is right when it comes to our police and not just pander to a vocal minority. I pledge to our members that we will actively attack these folks when they are up for re-election.

Finally, we as a state suffered the loss and injury of two of our own. Lieutenant Erik Lloyd contracted COVID-19 and lost his fight to the disease. I knew Lloyd for many years, whether it be from Narcotics or when he was the FIT lieutenant. Lloyd was a good man, a friend and a solid leader. His loss will forever impact our community. We also saw, during the riots, our own Officer Shay Mikalonis take a bullet from a piece of garbage who had no regard for human life. I was there at the hospital the night he was shot. I was with his partners as we sat outside on the curb. I saw the impact on our heroes who helped save Mikalonis’ life. Mikalonis and his family had their lives forever changed that evening, as did our profession. Today, Mikalonis continues his fight, recovering from that incident. He will always be a police officer, no matter where he is or what he is doing. We love both of our brothers who have been impacted as a result of this profession.

My hope for 2021–2022 is that we see no more loss or injury to our officers. I hope we continue to protect our community and serve our citizens. I hope those politicians come to their senses and commend and recognize the hard work and sacrifice our officers put forth. I hope every officer stays safe and healthy and has a long career.

God bless all of you and our profession.

The Importance of Training

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

About two years ago, I started training with Chad Lyman. Most of our early training focused on cardio work and some stand-up striking. I remember thinking to myself on the first day, “Damn! This is hard.” Eventually, the cardio and workouts became a little easier. Let me say, Chad is a great teacher. This guy really knows how to coach and uplift you when you feel like you have no more to give.

After about six months, Chad invited me to go to Xtreme Couture to do jiu-jitsu. I had done some jiu-jitsu when I was younger but suffered an injury that made me a little apprehensive about going back. Despite that, I took Chad up on the offer.

The first class I took was a whirlwind! My cardio sucked for jiu-jitsu, and I was super lost. Chad was the lead instructor. Even in a class full of amazing grapplers, he still taught with the same energy, passion and slow, methodical approach he usually took with me. I can tell you, as a 40-year-old guy who has been strong and athletic P# 7781 his whole life, I had my butt kicked by young men, teenagers, old guys and young ladies. One class turned into two, then two into three, and now, for the last year and a half, I have been training consistently every week, getting better and better.

I don’t tell this story of my training without having a point. As confident, strong and athletic as I was when I was first hired on the Department back in 1998, I truly believe that now I would put a whooping on my younger self if we ever met.

Why is this important? I should not be in the best shape for defending myself when I am in the twilight of my career, no longer out in the field where real danger is waiting on every car stop or person stop or call for service. I should have been preparing myself way back when I started on the agency and was dealing with all the shady folks we encountered. Even more so, nowadays, MMA gyms are full of people and are everywhere in this town. The odds of an officer coming upon a suspect they intend to arrest who has some level of training is far higher now than ever before. Las Vegas is the fight capital of the world. If you think what you learned in the academy and some late DT classes or training is enough to handle a well-trained or even poorly trained suspect, you are lying to yourself.

It is not enough to be big and strong and a good “barroom brawler.” On the contrary, officers should be building their toolbox with more technique to be better able to subdue a violent or resistant attacker. I am not saying size and strength are not good. I am saying that those alone, against a fairly well-trained individual, may not be enough.

What we see today in policing, as it relates to uses of force, is a change in how the public wants to see their police force. Long gone are the days of wanting to see tough officers who can knock someone out with one punch. What they want to see is officers using what appears to be a minimal amount of force on suspects to gain compliance. I can tell you, from my training, learning to better handle and control a suspect will add longevity to your career in several ways: fewer injuries to you and the suspect, fewer documented use-of-force cases and the ability to end a close-quarter, potentially deadly force scenario without having to use deadly force.

I hope this article does not come across as “preaching”; rather, I hope it comes across as a call to action to our officers to go out and join a gym. Start training yourself and sharpening the tools in your toolbox. Several departments are actually led by chiefs and sheriffs who support a jiu-jitsu-based curriculum and even offer pay incentives for people who train. The cost to train officers in combatives and jiu-jitsu could far outweigh the cost of a lawsuit against their agency. I think we will see this more and more in the future, as young officers who train will begin to promote and take leadership spots on agencies. Those new leaders will understand the benefits of training in this world and will likely promote it. There is currently a police department in Arizona that plans to have its officers train for one hour every day, not their lunch hour, to get proficient in control techniques.

This needs to be the new norm. As long as the media and politicians see uses of force that look ugly to them, regardless if we are able to justify it or not, they will continue to attack our profession. But if we start making these encounters about control and custody in better ways because we take the time to train, it will make that narrative a little smaller.

A quote from my friend, mentor and trainer: “Go out and train a little, a lot.”

P.S. If any officer wants some time with me and Chad at the PPA, let us know and drop in. We are here to help.

If the President Fails, the Country Fails

Steven Grammas
Steven Grammas
President

In 2015, I, along with other Executive Board members, was in Washington, D.C., for the Top Cops award ceremony. It was the first time I had ever attended the ceremony, and did not know what to expect. The ceremony was really interesting. Several stories of heroic officers across the country doing what heroes do every day. The ceremony included a guest speaker, who I really did not know. The man, an older guy in a nice suit, was speaking the praises of law enforcement and his unwavering support for the police. This man was a really good speaker and showed passion and enthusiasm for police. I learned later that the man was actually part of the Obama administration. It was rather shocking to hear someone speaking so highly of police when the administration back then didn’t appear to be pro-law-enforcement due to all the consent decrees across the country, as well as the taking of equipment from police. But this man gave some hope about someone in the administration who was pro-police. When he was done speaking, the entire room stood and applauded, and I said to Bryan Yant, “I could see that guy being president one day.” 

It turned out this man was the newly elected president, Joe Biden.

I look back on the speech that Joe Biden gave then, and I hope that somewhere deep down inside of him, that man is still in there. From a lot of the things we have heard, it doesn’t sound like supporting and assisting law enforcement is at the forefront of the new administration, but only time will tell.

Why do I bring up a positive speech about law enforcement from the winning candidate who we did not support? Simple, because we need to continue to move on and move forward. The president of the United States will change party to party many times over the life of the office. Sometimes, it will be a Democrat, and sometimes it will be a Republican. Heck, the smaller parties at some point could gain steam and put a candidate in the Oval Office. No matter who sits at the Resolute Desk, police work will continue and will always be a constant. No one in law enforcement can lose sight of what we are doing and why we are doing it. No one became a police officer because of who sits in the White House. 

Did I want Donald Trump to win? Yes. Why? Because he showed unwavering support for law enforcement. In a time when people across the country were calling to “defund the police” and “strip away officers’ rights,” President Trump stood by us and said, “No, we need our police. Don’t be caught up in the rhetoric that all cops are bad.” But the support I gave to President Trump is support I could give to President Biden. All he needs to do is stand by our profession, outwardly and vocally. If he was the same man who gave that amazing speech, we would stand with him. 

Regardless of who is our president, all of our officers need to just continue forward. Being a police officer is a non-partisan position. When we arrive on calls, our first questions aren’t “Are you hurt? Where is the bad guy? Are you Republican or Democrat?” Party lines are not a police officer’s concern. We concern ourselves with serving others and helping those who are not able to help themselves. The badge doesn’t have a donkey or an elephant engraved on it. Even our Sheriff runs on a non-partisan platform. And it needs to be that way. As I do not believe police officers have racism in their hearts and do not police communities or people based on racism, I also do not believe a police officer would or would not serve a citizen based on their political affiliation. 

By the time this magazine releases, the Nevada Legislature session will be in full swing, and we will be potentially dealing with different levels of police reforms. We will see that legislation is often not about what is best for the state, rather what is best for the party. The LVPPA will be up at the session fighting any attacks on our profession and attempting to pass a few small, but important additions to your heart and lung and PTSD cases. Some of the legislators, making decisions on how police work should be done, will be passing laws without input from real police officers and listening to their own parties or caucuses about what changes need to happen. And almost every single person making these decisions will have never in their life put on a uniform and gone out and done the job of a police officer. But this is the system we have to deal with, and we know the game we have to play. 

But as I said above, do not let the “why” you became a police officer change because rules to the job may change. Even at the level of the president of the United States, do not let that person change your “why.” Stay constant in the need to help the citizens of the state and the joy you feel when you are able to help a victim.

This story opened with the topic of the president speaking at a Top Cops award ceremony back in 2015 and how the PPA supported President Trump. President Trump lost. We need to accept it and work to move in a positive direction for our country, our state and our city. There is something I will continue to live by, and it is more important now than ever: 

“I am not supporting the person sitting in the president’s chair at the White House. I am supporting the position of the president because if that position fails, we all fail. We must hope for the success of our president, no matter their party affiliation. This can only be done through fair legislation and bipartisan cooperation. Through this, our country will continue to be great.”

I would like to thank President Trump for his four years as president. That is not an easy job, and anyone assuming that position should be thanked. Thank you, also, for your continued support of law enforcement.

I would like to wish President Biden good luck in undertaking the office of the president. Because, as I said, if he fails, the country fails. Have a safe and healthy 2021 to all of the members of the LVPPA, as well as everyone in the law enforcement community across the country.