HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The day-to-day grind of a police officer is obviously a stressful one, that's why Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill wants his officers to be mentally prepared to notice stress, and how it affects each of us differently.
James Lilley is a former officer and negotiator and now works for Global Police Solutions. He'll spend the next month teaching 160 county officers.
"It gives officers some coping skills that they can use for themselves with trauma as well as how to deal with others who have that stress and trauma. Everybody deals with it just a little bit differently, because some people can take just a little thimble full and others can take a ten-gallon drum full," said James Lilley.
"They realize this is what law enforcement does, they're not out there just to see how many arrests that they can make, it's to serve and protect the public, and they're trying to get back to serving a lot more and be that helpful officer that goes out and makes a positive difference in somebody's life instead of a negative difference," said Lilley.
Officers spent the day learning how the brain reacts to stress, and which signs to look for in themselves and others. Lilley said the way officers are portrayed on the news can often be misconstrued.
"Whether it be a homicide call or wreck or whatever it might be, they see officers and they like to show officers on TV that are laughing or joking around with hands in their pockets and so forth. What they don't understand is that that officer has seen this time and time again. So they learn to get a little bit cold to it. Psychologists call it a coping mechanism. It's how they deal with what's going on so it doesn't control their lives," Lilley said.
Lilley said officers will learn how to not only manage their own stress, but how to recognize when it's impacting others, especially those who have served in the military.
"If you don't manage your stress it manages you. Unfortunately, far too many officers die, just like military. Strokes, heart attacks because of the stress and trauma that they've seen. They don't get help with it, they don't talk about it, they keep pushing it down, to where they finally implode," Lilley said.
Lilley said he wants officers to be vocal when things are bothering them and not afraid to seek help. He said being tough doesn't mean being alone.