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Get down with a front-liner

J receiving his Samoan Sleeve from Tuigamala Andy
J the cool cop guy

It's always interesting talking to people who work on our front line. They are the people you call for help and are one of the first people at the scene of an emergency, ready to deal with any situation. I've always wanted to break down the psyche of how they manage what they deal with on day to day basis because the truth of the matter is a lot of what they see and hear is horrific. Curious about how they take in the constant influx of information from some dark cases and compartmentalize it all.

Meet J, a fresh-faced police officer who has been patrolling our streets for roughly over a year. As he was getting his forearm tattoo done, I decided to take the opportunity to play my version of 20 questions except it ends when I'm out of questions, not 20. To spark an informal conversation on the everyday take of what it's like on the front line.

Do people ever try to give you donuts? "Not really aye, I do make homemade donuts and take them to work sometimes hahaha"

Do you think anyone can become a cop?

" Not everyone can be a cop, it takes a whole lot of empathy and some people just don't have that in them. Learning to also treat everyone the same no matter what situation you're in... I've been called a Muslim before just because of my (at the time) beard. People say a lot of things when they're angry and it's about not taking it personally."

Is there any difference in how the public treats you on and off duty?

"Not really when you're on duty walking around you get a lot more people looking at you and middle-aged men coming up to you saying hello and wishing you a good day. When I'm off duty no one knows I'm a cop because I'm not wearing my uniform."

What are your thoughts in regards of the funding cuts towards our mental health system and the steady rise in our youth suicide rate?

" Look it's not okay, what you're getting due to the cut (in resources) is that now police officers are forced to fill a role that they are not trained for. We do not have the degree to give you the professional help you need. I do think the attitude towards mental health needs to change"

Doing this impromptu 'get down' with an off-duty police officer as he was finishing his arm piece in store highlighted the normality as well as the lack of normality in their lives. It's important to remember that at the end of the day, every cop is just like any other person trying to do their job. Addressing the public attitude towards an issue like mental health is not only putting the well-being of the individual affected at the forefront but also everyone involved in the process. Such as police officers, helpline call center staff, nurses, paramedics, and councilors, to do their job to the best of their ability without jeopardizing the quality of how they respond to any situation. Especially towards cases that they are not trained for and are not professionally equipped to respond to. They are people with families, who sometimes make homemade donuts for their work family and just like everyone else, enjoy a laugh and a half.



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