The Addictions Coach: Police Officers Turning to Drugs and Alcohol to Cope with the Stress of the Job
With all the recent national headlines bringing our attention to society beginning to turn on law enforcement officers, we are starting to see a spike in our police now turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with the stress. This is already a high stress job that requires a lot of patience and people skills to function, so this new wave of society turning against police at an all time high seems to be contributing to these same officers consuming substances that are definitely impairing their judgement and landing them in hot water.
Here locally in Miami, a recent example of this happened in Aventura. For years, Opa-locka’s police force has been ridiculed as the place where almost any officer, even one with a criminal past, could get hired. When Maj. Peter Cruz was hired in 2013, he already had a fat internal affairs file, filled with complaints ranging from perjury to conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly superimposing fellow officers’ faces on pornographic photographs he distributed to the department. Despite his history, Opa-locka Police Chief Jeffrey Key, with whom Cruz worked at the North Miami Police Department, not only hired him, but promoted him. Now, Cruz is behind bars. He was arrested before dawn Monday on charges that he crashed his city-issued pickup truck while driving under the influence in Aventura.
According to the police report, Cruz was so impaired that he kept falling down, stumbling from side to side and losing his balance after crashing his truck into a fence along a busy pedestrian thoroughfare at about 6 a.m. He refused to take a field sobriety test, and when Aventura officers told him he was still going to be criminally charged, he said “I’m f—–,’’ the report said. Cruz, 56, who was off duty, was charged with two counts of driving under the influence and damage to property, according to the police report.
The report said Cruz drove through an intersection at Northeast 199th Street and West Country Club Drive, lost control and crashed into a solid wooden fence. His truck plowed across the popular exercise trail behind Aventura Mall near the Turnberry Isle resort and became perched on a bank of trees. Cruz stumbled out of his truck, and told responding officers, in slurred speech, that he was trying to turn left, but wasn’t able to complete the turn. He was alone in the silver Ford pickup and walked away from the accident unscathed. “I could detect a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his breath as he opened his month and spoke, along with bloodshot watery eyes and a flush face,” wrote the arresting officer, adding that Cruz “stumbled when he attempted to walk” and “nearly fell off the fence after losing his balance.” Cruz refused to take a field sobriety test, telling officers: “I ain’t doing those tests man.” During processing at the Aventura police station, Cruz stripped completely naked, and was placed in a holding cell. He urinated on himself in his sleep, the report said.
“As the facts change, then certainly there will be an evaluation of those facts,’’ said Opa-locka Assistant City Manager David Chiverton, who also functions as the city’s public information officer. He added that Cruz’s arrest is the first allegation against him since he was hired in Opa-locka two years ago.
In another local incident, Miami Officer Christopher Vital was arrested after blowing by an accident scene on the McArthur Causeway in his BMW. Once Miami PD caught up to Vital they saw Cocaine and Heroin in plain view. He had a female passenger and was arrested on scene. After being placed in the back of the patrol car Vital kept smashing his head against the glass partition and told officers he was going to shoot himself as soon as he bonded out. What is different about Vital is he was a model officer and was even chosen to do a local News TV special last year about being safe while you Christmas shop.
This behavior has also reared its ugly head in North Florida. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested one of their own Thursday after detectives said a female acquaintance told them that the 11-year veteran patrol officer made some unwanted sexual advances on her and tried to give her prescription pain pills. Officer Scott Bridges was booked into jail on two counts of distribution of a controlled substance and one count of battery. Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said the woman texted Bridges last Wednesday asking him to bring her a Coke Zero and some pain pills. She said that when Bridges showed up and gave her three pills in a bag, he sat next to her on the couch and made sexual advances.
“He showed up and had a bag with some pills which he gave to her and she didn’t take. She said as they were sitting on the couch together he made sexual advances,” Senterfitt said. “She told him to stop and he kind of forced the issue. Try to pull her pants down, a few things like that, and she said stop, which eventually he did and he left her residence.” She told investigators that after being repeatedly asked to stop as he touched her and tried to take her pants down, he eventually did stop and left. She called police, and the Integrity Unit found probable cause for the arrest. “I don’t care who it is; if they do something wrong, we’re going to investigate it. If we prove they did it, they’re going to be held accountable. That’s why he went to jail today,” Senterfitt said.
Police were still investigating where the hydrocodone and other pills that were in the bag came from. Senterfitt said Bridges is on a voluntary leave of absence without pay, and once the criminal prosecution is completed, he would face an internal review before he could be considered to be reinstated.
These 3 examples here in Florida are not to expose local police as “bad guys” , but to bring awareness that the pressure of society turning on law enforcement is having a negative affect on the officers personally. We, sober coaches, life coaches, drug/alcohol counselors have already begun the process of helping Law Enforcement officers, Military men and women and Fire Fighters by offering segregated housing for detoxing and counseling. We are surrounding them by like-minded servicemen and women who understand the daily struggles that they go through during their job duties. So I urge any and all Police, Firefighters, and Military men and women who are struggling with any addiction to contact us here at www.theaddictionscoach.com
. We understand the importance of placing you with those in your profession who are struggling as well.