That was a sign that Coach Lombardi placed in our locker room during training camp with the Washington Redskins in 1969. We all believed that he was trying to kill us by working us to death while screaming at the top of his lungs to further motivate us.
Before every practice we would do the dreaded "up-downs." You would run in place until Coach blew his whistle, then hit and ground in a full prone position then immediately jump back up and start running again. We would do up to 100 of them before every practice. Coach told us we should thank him because getting up after we got knocked down would now be a reflex. We wouldn't waste time thinking about it. Many still think he was just trying to see who really "wanted it." Maybe that was part of it too.
The end result was positive. We were well conditioned, proud to have survived, able to play harder longer, and yes, got up without having to think about it. We never quit. No matter how tired we were, we kept right on playing and took pride in that.
I've taken a lot of lessons from the football field and applied them to law enforcement. Most fit. This one doesn't.
Working through a little fatigue is OK. In sports, if you push too hard, you lose a game. The stakes are much higher for all of us in law enforcement. Fatigue may not make you a coward. But it will, if left unchecked, affect your reactions, judgment and reason. Studies have shown that after 20 hours of wakefulness individuals experience the same level of impairment as those with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10, twice the presumptive level of intoxication in most states (August 2007 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin). Even extending the wakefulness period by as little as three hours can significantly impact reaction time.
Here are a few of the impacts of continued loss of sleep and fatigue:
1. Irritability with coworkers, family or friends.
2. Inability to remain alert.
3. Memory impairment.
3. Memory impairment.
4. Lack of concentration.
5. Lower frustration tolerance.
7. Stress-related illness.
11. Changes in metabolic functions.
12. Alteration of hormonal function in ways that mimic aging.
I nearly didn't put the list in because after reading it, especially numbers nine and 10, I knew there were those of you who the next time we meet will tell me that I look like I need a nap. Bring it on.
We do have a very serious issue though. In an effort to provide essential 24-hour coverage as much as we can, we're really stretching our staffing. Our officers know that if they do not answer their phones for emergency call outs, the officer on duty or our citizens could be in a life or death situation. This can result in an officer who has just gotten to sleep after a long shift, or been called out multiple times. Neither is what you deserve for a service level of a safety level for them.
You expect a full day's work for a full day's pay. Our command staff, clerical staff, correction officers, emergency management staff, communications staff, patrol officers and I are committed to giving you just that plus the extra effort required to be successful. I'm preparing this year's budget document that I believe will justify the funding requested for a level of service that is effective, efficient and as safe as possible. I'll keep you posted.