DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — On a daily basis, law enforcement officers put their lives on the line in order to protect and serve. It’s a profession that takes its toll on the individual both mentally and physically.
Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza says the stress and pressures of the job can affect his personnel both on the job and in their home life.
“Whether it’s personal at home or from instances that had taken place at work,” Valenza said. “A lot of times they would carry them home with them and it would cause problems at home or it would effect their work. We’ve been on some horrific crime scenes that is not normal for the average person to see.”
The mental struggle that comes in the line of duty can push officers to a breaking point. Just recently Valenza had to bury the third deputy in his career — Officers who took their own lives.
It’s a tragedy that takes place at any department in any part of the country, according to Valenza about 105 officers in the country have also taken their lives due to mental strain.
The sheriff wants anyone in law enforcement who might be struggling to know, is that the blue family is always there for support.
“We’re family,” Valenza said. “If you have problems at home, we can help you, if you want to bring it to our attention. I don’t want to see anybody else get to that point where they either make a mistake, life changing career, or life changing in their family divorce, I just want to do everything I can to try and help my deputies.”
The Houston County Sheriff’s Department also has a department psychologist that can be utilized as well as a peer support alliance that can help deputies work through any issues. Talking about issues is sometimes the only way to get through them.
“Whether it’s work related or at home, they have to be able to talk to someone,” Valenza said.
You would be surprised at how valuable and uplifting a thank you can be. And that is one way the community can help, according to the sheriff.