PAJ Issue 3 NA


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T hese were the last words discovered by police investi- gators when they found the private journal of a female police officer who, later that day, would fire a bullet into her head. Her body was found inside the bathroom of her police station after fellow officers rushed to the bathroom after hearing a loud bang. "Click. No, not today. Click. No, not today. Click. No, not today..." I close my eyes and imagine her writing those difficult, lonely words, pulling the trigger, hesitating, pulling it again --- and then, firing. This week in our local newspaper I read about two cases of cops killing themselves. I knew one of them. Reading those stories brought me back to my past, to my years walking the beat, and so I decided to perform a personal, mental cleansing by writing this column. If you look at the job of policing, it is essentially one filled with frustrations. We encounter unpleasantries -- from domestic disputes to neighbours fighting, along with a regular dose of drunk and aggressive people, lots of vomit, angry drivers who don't like getting tickets, women and children who have been abused, violent deaths as a result of accidents or natural causes, countless acts of violence, and everything else in between. Our job also includes difficult work schedules and shifts that often disappoint a spouse. We are expected to spend many days in the court- room, our vacations are easily cut short, Christmas finds you responding to a call, and then there are the many little frustrations, including a boss who is eager to climb the ranks of authority in a self-serving quest that often comes at a price of crushing everyone around him. Even if a police officer is trained to deal with anything that comes his way, a cop is still very human, just like the people he works with and even the people he arrests. During my 32-year career with the Montreal Police Department, I had to face many tragedies and difficult incidents. I've seen cops who have reached the end of their despair and have decided that they can't take it anymore, and that today, they're ending it. I would tell you that, on average, three police officers end their lives each year -- and I am only talking here about people that I have personally known. Not all of them die at the end of a gun. Some drink themselves to death. One of them even joked to me that "at least drinking doesn't cause any blood to spill." My police officer friend, Gilles, had been strictly told by his doctor that he must stop drinking or else it was going to kill him. Gilles decided to go on one last rampage. He was only 46 when he died. Another one of my friends was found, dead, inside his home. He wanted to make sure that he would do it right, and used a hunting rifle to get the job done. Others chose a rope or pills. To these cops, dying was the only exit, the only solution. Don't ask me if I have ever thought about it, because I won't tell you. I will do just like all the other veteran, crusty old cops: I will simply smile and put on a happy, empty face. When it comes to policing, it's not just about vacations, money and a nice pension fund. It's also about depression, post-traumatic stress, losing your composure, retirement years marked by nightmares that induce insomnia, seeing visions of horror, dead bodies. It's also about fits of crying, while trying to tell yourself that you must not weep. That's also what policing is all about. -- Claude Aubin is a retired sergeant detective with the Montreal Police Department. In his 32 years of service, he arrested more than 3,000 criminals. He survived three contracts on his head from the Irish mob and East European mafia. Aubin has lost seven of his friends to suicide. Aubin is also a celebrated author, with three books about his years as a police officer to his credit. 18 w w w . p o l i c e a d v o c a t e s j o u r n a l . c o m SUICIDE: BY CLAUDE AUBIN "Click. No, not today. Click. No, not today. Click. No, not today..." Claude Aubin spent 32 years on the beat. PHOTO: Stéphane Brunet

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