Communication Challenges in Special Assignments

Communication and connection are a challenge for all of us in law enforcement relationships. There are some extra special challenges when you're on call all the time or you're in situations where you just can't talk due to being in a special assignment such as undercover work or maybe the part of a SWAT team.

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Communication and connection are a challenge for all of us in law enforcement relationships. There are some extra special challenges when you’re on call all the time or you’re in situations where you just can’t talk due to being in a special assignment such as undercover work or maybe the part of a SWAT team.

 Heather Williams, a law enforcement professional, turned police psychologist, and SWAT spouse talks about the unique challenges of special units, their impact on relationships and strategies to communicate and connect.

(04:31): Heather Willimas discusses what drove her to creating programs that fulfilled gaps in services in the law enforcement community.

(05:38): Providing critical incident response to victims and witnesses in the community, led Heather to fulfilling a peer support role for community members and eventually the opportunity to debrief officers within departments.

(06:37): “What I realized is that I was doing the same thing that everybody else in this field does when they respond to ugly situations. I was sucking it up, I was saying I was fine and I was moving on to the next one, not recognizing the impact it was having on me as a mom, and as a spouse, until I started to teach the impact of trauma for law enforcement.” – Heather Williams

(08:54-11:01): Heather shares how she met her husband professionally, which turned into a friendship and a relationship.

(11:25): The unpredictability of an officer in a special unit can impact relationships differently.

(12:53): Heather shares the impact her husband’s SWAT assignment had on their relationship.

“Make sure that each other is a priority because it’s so easy in this field for the job to be the priority. The job is so demanding of your time and attention and mentally/physically exhausting that what’s left at the end is oftentimes where the family fits in.”– Heather Williams

(14:54): “Be creative in your time together.”– Heather Williams

(15:42): When you try to talk to a first responder in the middle of their work week, when their brain is in the hypervigilant state, they don’t have the capacity to hear, to listen, or to understand. Schedule times together for quality conversations.

(16:57): Heather and Cyndi talk about the importance of being intentional with the time you have with your officer/spouse and the significance of finding a routine in communication that works for both people.

“If you don’t have that undivided attention and time, then how do you ever feel connected and heard?” – Heather Williams

HEATHER WILLIAMS TALKS ABOUT THE COMMUNICATION CHALLENGES AS A SWAT SPOUSE.

(19:41-20:24): Manage your expectations about response times when communicating.

“The more insight the spouse or partner has, the better they’re going to be able to support their loved one who’s out in the field.” Heather Williams

(23:29-24:48): Understand that it’s a non-negotiable for the officer to go to work and stop asking them if they have to go.

(26:57): Practice supportive communication.

(27:38-31:30): It’s important to educate or communicate to your spouse what operation or tactics look like to alleviate some of their anxiety about what occurs on shift.

“When we don’t have information, our brain makes up bullshit.”– Heather Williams

(31:30-37:13): Heather talks about other ways to manage anxiety from stressors of the career.

(37:59-39:33): Heather discusses the differences between serving as a SWAT spouse compared to a spouse of an officer working patrol.

 (39:40): As an officer, acknowledge the commitment your spouse/family makes by words of affirmation and thanking them for supporting you and your career.

(41:13):  If we want to have support for the career as an officer, make your spouse/family feel like a priority. Be creative with your time together, set expectations, establish rituals and time to connect.

(42:33): “Trust in each other to be a priority.” – Cyndi Doyle

Heather is an LEOW wife to a SWAT commander, a first responder psychologist, and has been working with the law enforcement and criminal justice community for 27 years. She works closely with crisis response teams and conducts training with academies, crisis teams and peer support.

Premier First Responder Psychological Services

Premier1streponder.com

[email protected].

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Communication Challenges in Special Assignments

Communication and connection are a challenge for all of us in law enforcement relationships. There are some extra special challenges when you're on call all the time or you're in situations where you just can't talk due to being in a special assignment such as undercover work or maybe the part of a SWAT team.

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