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A VERY CHEQUERED CAREER



A VERY CHEQUERED CAREER COVER

Detective Sergeant Owen Maloney is a highly regarded veteran police officer. Together with his reputation as an intelligent, ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ detective, his steely determination, and keen analytical mind, Detective Maloney was ‘going places’ career wise. 

During the latter part of his 25-year police career, Owen started to become depressed, experience mood swings, and lose his zest for life – a dominant characteristic of his outgoing personality. 

While Owen appeared to be in control of these changes, he was unwittingly being drawn into the clutches of a potentially deadly illness – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Together with his misguided belief that alcohol would help him relax and cope with his depression, he soon became addicted to it and, with his declining health, suffered two near fatal heart attacks, which required life-saving surgery. 

For Owen his war was now on two fronts – his battle against crime and his battle against PTSD and the deleterious effects of alcohol abuse. Armed with the love and support of his wife, the guidance of a recovering alcoholic priest, and Alcoholics Anonymous, he was victorious in one – turning what were huge stumbling blocks in his life into stepping-stones to bigger and greater things.  

A story inspired by actual events. 

In Store Price: $27.95 
Online Price:   $26.95

 

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ISBN: 978-0-6482780-0-9
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 252
Genre: Fiction

 

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Cover: Clive Dalkins


Author
-
Garry Maher
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2018
Language: English


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Preface

 

The story behind this book is about a very well-known fact in general, and police circles in particular, that many police officers, irrespective of age, gender or rank, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by the roller coaster of emotions: anger, anxiety, fear, guilt, jealousy, revenge, sadness, and even hatred, which they encounter in varying degrees during nearly every tour of duty. This roller coaster of mixed emotions and stress invariably leaves them in an often brittle state of mind to the extent that they seek relief in alcohol or other mind-altering substances and often to their detriment.

It has been for a long time the ‘elephant in the room’ of numerous police agencies around the world and only in recent times has the significant effects of PTSD among serving officers been recognised and, thankfully, started to be dealt with at a meaningful level.

Sadly, the story of the main character of this book, Detective Sergeant Owen Maloney, his emotionally brittle state of mind and his increasing reliance on alcohol to deal with it, is not a unique one. It is a story that will resonate with most experienced police officers, their spouses, partners, families and friends, and gives credence to the rather prophetic lines of the Gilbert and Sullivan’s well-loved opera, The Pirates of Penzance:

‘…when constabulary duty’s to be done, to be done, a policeman’s lot is not a happy one …..’

Research suggests that around twenty percent of serving police officers succumb to the temporary feelings of well-being that alcohol provides and, surreptitiously, they start to rely on it in order to gain some relief from the tensions, anxiety, and depression associated with police work, which has been described as being among the highest-risk occupations for work-related mental stress in the world. Adding to the problem, too, is the police culture that considers drinking part of the job and the ‘macho’ way of coping with the often very emotionally taxing situations that every police officer will confront from time to time during routine duties. This culture is becoming more apparent due to the increasing reports in the media of police officers being arrested, charged and prosecuted for the usually career-ending or at least career-ruining crime of driving a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

A ‘normal’ tour of duty of a police officer, both male and female, from junior to senior rank, often exposes the officer to having to deal with, or investigate, homicides, domestic violence, suicides, road crashes, street violence, theft, acts of terrorism, school massacres, sudden deaths including the emotionally charged investigation into the unexpected death of a child or ‘cot death’ known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and mental health matters, to name but a few of the types of incidents that they respond to virtually on an everyday basis. Being the first responders they have to confront and deal with the carnage that awaits them. In many cases, these stressful incidents can and do have a devastating effect on the most resilient of hardened and street-wise police officers.

Ongoing exposure to these psychologically draining incidents often results in frustration, resentment, ill will, and indifference towards their primary role as keepers of the peace and law and order, all of which are tolerated or suffered in accordance with, and strict observance of, the unwritten police code – silence – ‘suck it up!’

For many of those suffering from these stressors and their rippling effects, alcohol is invariably the answer because it is readily available, relatively cheap and importantly – legal. Because of this, alcohol, while it is still a drug, is a socially acceptable, one that is regarded and indeed recommended as a way of ‘dissolving’ the pressures, problems and negative aspects of police work.

While police officers receive some education on the effects of alcohol or drug abuse, mainly because of its role in the commission of crime particularly domestic violence, many don’t receive equivalent education or training on how that abuse might apply to them. Despite the very high risk of a police officer succumbing to the grip of PTSD and all its related problems, educating police officers is the key; however, that is easier said than done and remains a very challenging task for police administrators. This is due, among other things, to the very ‘closed shop’ or ‘exclusive club’ nature of the police culture.

Every police officer, emergency services and other law enforcement personnel, irrespective of length of service or seniority, will get something from this book because many will have a story to tell about a colleague ‘or my friend!!’ who ‘has a problem’. There is no such thing as an unwounded police officer, and those wounds only get deeper with experience.

This book is a realistic narrative of how untreated PTSD and depressive illness and alcohol and other drug abuse can literally destroy a police officer physically, mentally and spiritually, along with its equally devastating effects on spouses, partners, family, friends and colleagues – and the community. Hopefully, the book will reach out to the men and women who protect and serve the community by taking on board the experience of Detective Sergeant Owen Maloney and appreciate the extent of the havoc which untreated mental illness can wreak on law enforcement and emergency services officers and their families.

 

Garry Maher

Prologue 

 

Owen Maloney was a career policeman. He was born and raised in a Christian middle-class family environment and he, along with his younger sister, Anne, received a solid primary and intermediate secondary school education. During his later school years, Owen became very involved in sport and excelled in athletics and swimming and eventually played grade rugby in a local competition.

At the age of seventeen, Owen joined the police cadets and was trained in the basics of police work, criminal law, traffic management, word processing and computer skills, physical fitness and self-defence, until he was sworn in as a probationary police officer at the age of nineteen. Owen excelled in his police studies, his physical fitness and self-defence training, and showed natural leadership ability and organising skills.

Owen was highly regarded by his fellow officers and the police academy training staff and, coupled with his keen analytical mind, his steely determination to see things through, and his superior intellect, looked forward to a very promising career as a police officer, particularly as a detective.

Owen had a reputation of being the ‘life of the party’ at social functions, could tell a joke, was quick-witted with a keen sense of humour and was a very confident and articulate public speaker. Because of his outgoing and confident personality, Owen’s name was on the invitation list of many social functions, police graduation ceremonies and on one occasion was invited to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of one of his former rugby friends. Not long after he graduated from the police academy, Owen married the love of his life, Margaret, and they later became the proud parents of Daniel and Sophie.

As years went by, Owen increased his standing as a very competent officer highly regarded by the police administration, the judiciary, the press, members of the public and his colleagues, many of whom regarded him as a loyal friend and mentor. Rising through the ranks to later become a detective sergeant, he developed a reputation as being the ‘the iron fist in the velvet glove’, always ready to give a person a go or second chance, even to some criminals, many of whom had a grudging respect for him. In addition to his detective and supervisory duties, Owen was often invited to deliver lectures at the police academy on a wide range of police topics, and on many occasions, was invited to speak to members of school P and C associations and various community groups, all of which added to the very real prospect of Owen one day being considered for promotion to the highest of police ranks –commissioner of police.

While Owen always appeared to be in control of his actions and words, at the same time he, his wife Margaret, his police colleagues and his family were unaware that he was slowly being drawn into the clutches of a potentially deadly disease for which there is no known cure but which can be managed only through sheer perseverance and diligence. Owen was one of the twenty percent of the population who had a predisposition to PTSD for which he misguidedly sought refuge in the most popular and readily available drug on earth – alcohol.

Insidiously, while seeking some respite from his increasing internal torment, his body and mind were silently screaming out for more of this highly addictive substance, which, ironically, was the cause of so many crimes, deaths and resource-intensive incidents that he himself investigated.

In addition to Owen’s PTSD and his increasing dependence on alcohol as a way of dealing with it, their cumulative effects started to have a negative impact on his overall health. Eventually, the ‘piper had to be paid’ for his PTSD and his misguided way of dealing with it. The piper was eventually paid, and then some – with devastating results.


 

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