Transcript: Thanks Alan, this is David Brower with Your 20 Minute podcast. Our special guest today, Patrick Fitzgibbons, a criminal justice expert who just lives up the road from me. Hi Patrick, how are you?
Pat Fitzgibbons: How are you, thanks for having me on.
David Brower: You bet. It’s very rare we get a couple of Coloradans on the same phone call so this is kind of fun. You’ve been around law enforcement, criminal justice roles for over 20 years. A variety of different things and what are you doing now? What are you using your experience for?
Pat Fitzgibbons: I’m currently, David, I’m currently a police officer in Colorado right up the road, like you said. About a year ago when I was on the street, I’m a big podcast listener as I’m assuming you are too. I was listening to a podcast one night on graveyards when we weren’t busy. I said, “Hey I can do that.” And I started a podcast and it’s called CJ Evolution. It’s a great show and I have a lot of great guests. The reason why I created it is to educate people more about what law enforcement does. Difficult times we’re faced with right now. I started the show and I’m having a great time with it. I’ve been privileged to have bestselling authors on and leaders in law enforcement and other people. It’s a great time. I really enjoy it.
David Brower: Well good for you. You’re obviously got a great voice and good communication style I’m sure it’s a home run. How long you been doing the podcast?
Pat Fitzgibbons: A little over a year now. It was interesting because I started it and then got busy with life like most of us get and then it got shelved for a little bit. Then I started it back up and just been running full steam ahead. It’s a juggling act with full-time work and a podcast but I love it. It’s a passion of mine. It’s great to talk to people like you and other great people.
David Brower: That’s great. That’s great. Certainly law enforcement has been in the forefront of a lot of people’s minds for a lot of reasons over these last few years. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago where you just looked up to a police officer, you came by and shook their hand. They came and spoke at your school and everything was really good and then a few years ago man, police just started to get bad rap after rap after rap after rap and some deservingly so. But most by far not.
Pat Fitzgibbons: I was going to say that. Some of it is our own doing. We’re under the spotlight, David. We should be. We have a lot of responsibility. The public entrusts us. But some of it, I agree with you, is unfair criticism. There are tough times. I do think there is still a lot of support out there for law enforcement. I see it every day. We go out, we talk to people, we make those connections in the community. We’re involved in our community as are other departments. There’s a lot of support out there. Sometimes we see the negative that’s going on in the media but I do believe there is a lot of positive out there. I agree with you, it’s not I don’t think, the way it used to be but there is a lot of support out there for law enforcement. It’s incumbent upon law enforcement professionals like me to keep trying to make those connections and bridge those gaps.
David Brower: Absolutely, right. One thing I’ve noticed a few times on NBC Nightly News, they have a thing at the end of their newscast that’s a very positive news story, serving America, different things like that. Periodically I want to say I’ve seen probably two in the last two or three weeks that have been focused on positive things that police officers have done around the country and it’s very rare that law enforcement gets that kind of spotlight in the media. I was really thrilled to see that.
Pat Fitzgibbons: I’m glad to see that too.
David Brower: When you’re on your podcast and you’re talking to these experts and people like me who don’t know what we don’t know about law enforcement really, other than I’m looking in my rear view mirror, oh crap, I’m speeding. What kind of things, what kind of words of wisdom, what are your experts share that laypeople like me want to, need to know about?
Pat Fitzgibbons: First and foremost, that’s a great question. We’re people. I don’t know if people know that but we are doing a very difficult job. We are going out there every day and we’re putting it on the line and we’re people and we make mistakes. And we have bad days. I try to tell people just keep that in your back of your mind that we’re people too. We have families. We don’t go out, what I tell people is, no officer goes out there wanting to get into some confrontation with somebody or to use some sort of deadly force. They don’t do that. I tell people, are there bad cops out there David? Yes. Of course. But they are the very, very small minority.
Pat Fitzgibbons: We’ve done a good job in the profession to get rid of those bad officers in our midst. Do we still have some work to do? Yes. But sometimes people get this view that all officers out there are, or mass majority are just corrupt. No, that’s not the case. The officers I work with, brave men and women are professionals. They’re out there doing a tough job in a tough environment. I just tell people and tell people who, students I teach that you gotta keep that in the back of your mind. We make mistakes but we learn from them. It’s a profession and I’m proud of it.
David Brower: Good for you. And that’s exactly right, I couldn’t agree more. The other thing in a strange way, at least in my brain is that some of the negative stuff, quote unquote that’s happened over the last few years, it’s gotten and correct me if I’m wrong, but has gotten the attention of those higher up, if you will, in law enforcement and they’re starting to pay a little more attention to cleaning house, if you will.
Pat Fitzgibbons: Exactly right. Look, there’s nothing that the professionals in law enforcement hate more than dirty cops. It starts with recruitment David. It starts with recruiting the best and the brightest. We have a lot of, my department’s pretty young and we got the best and the brightest and the other departments do too but it starts with getting the right people and making sure that we’re hiring the best. There’s a very stringent process that we go through in law enforcement to make sure that we’re getting the best. We do a good job at that.
David Brower: One other point that you made a little bit earlier that we need to spend a minute on and that is law enforcement is professional, there’s no question about it and there’s lots of other job categories, if you will, that are professionals as well. For those of you who are professionals in your own industry and don’t have anything to do with law enforcement to speak of, it’s prudent for everybody to take a look at their own in house and say, “Well hey, we got some bad apples, why aren’t the police officers entitled to having an issue too.” 95% of our employees are doing a great job, why don’t we respect law officers and assume that 95 to 98% of them are all doing good work?
Pat Fitzgibbons: That’s a good point. One of it is law enforcement they’re out there in the public. We’re under a microscope and we should be. Like I said, we’re high visibility. We’ve been in the news in a variety of instances over the last couple years we talked about. That’s the reason why, it’s easier for people to say, “Well look at that cop out there making a mistake.” It’s just more high visibility. That’s the nature of the job.
David Brower: Agreed.
Pat Fitzgibbons: We need to be held accountable as law enforcement officers and we need to be under a microscope. That’s just the nature of the job David. That’s probably the reason in my opinion it’s just ’cause we’re in that state of visibility all the time.
David Brower: Folks don’t sign up for that lightly.
Pat Fitzgibbons: No, they don’t. It truly is a calling. It’s something that I knew I wanted to do early on in my life. I served in the military and I knew when I got out I wanted to get into law enforcement and I followed my passion. I’ve had a successful run and a successful career.
David Brower: Well thanks for your service.
Pat Fitzgibbons: Well thank you.
David Brower: You bet. Your experience, leadership, use of force issues, community policies, emotional wellness. Emotional wellness is certainly something that every business, every industry is being mindful if you will, is starting to pay more attention to. How does that play in the law enforcement world?
Pat Fitzgibbons: That’s a great question. I am a big fan David of meditation. I meditate every day for at least 10 minutes. I have a great app on my phone. I’m not going to name it.
David Brower: Headspace?
Pat Fitzgibbons: Actually it is Headspace. There Calm, I was using Calm but now I use Headspace. I’m not a spokesman for Headspace.
David Brower: I’m not either. I have that on my phone too.
Pat Fitzgibbons: I love it. Back to your, if you were to ask me a couple of years ago, we would’ve been talking about mindfulness or meditation, I would’ve laughed and said, “C’mon, I’m not going to do that.” But I tell you what. This is something I wish we would spend a little bit more time with, especially in the academies. It’s so important, emotional wellness for our officers. We teach our officers to go out there and be big and tough and that’s an important part of the job but we need to do a better job with having our officers take care of themselves. If we’re not taking care of ourselves and that includes mental clarity, emotional wellness, how are we going to be able to take care of other people? Officers see a lot, they suffer with PTSD and other issues but we need to do a better job with taking care of our officers in terms of mental wellbeing. We’re incredibly stressed. Some officers more than others but I wish we would spend more time with things like meditation and really stressing the benefits, the health benefits of that.
Pat Fitzgibbons: It’s a tough job David. We work a variety of, I work graveyards for years and getting little sleep and we need to do a better job. A lot of officers do take care of themselves but some of them don’t. It starts with emotional wellness, it really does. I wish, it’s changing, we’re spending a lot more time. There’s a great author out there, an ex-police officer his name is Dr. Gil Martin. He talks about emotional wellbeing. He actually goes around and he trains officers and departments on how to take better care of ourselves emotionally. There’s a reason why the military and professional sports teams are doing mindfulness training and meditation because it is beneficial. It helps me so I would recommend it.
David Brower: Absolutely, yeah. No matter who you are, where you are in life, if you don’t figure out a way with to have some kind of balance man, it’s just a long road.
Pat Fitzgibbons: Exactly.
David Brower: I would think, and I don’t want to stereotype it but I would think that it’s probably much harder for law enforcement folks that have been around for a while ’cause they’re quote unquote old school. This is the way we’ve always done it. Change is hard for those people I would think.
Pat Fitzgibbons: I was brought up in that environment and I’m not saying it was a wrong environment but you’re exactly right. It’s changing that mindset that it’s okay to, I was that guy just a handful of years ago. I’m not going to do that meditation. But I tell you what, I started it and it’s been great. I start each day, that’s part of my morning routine. I get up early, journal for a little bit and then meditate and it really charges me for the day ahead.
David Brower: That’s life changing stuff man. We all need to do that. We all need to do that. Hats off to you. The other thing, is by you doing that, you are able to model that for your fellow officers. They watch, they look, they observe. They’re going, oh, that’s kind of interesting.
Pat Fitzgibbons: The one thing that I wanted to mention about the podcast too, David, is the premise is criminal justice, we talk a lot about criminal justice issues. But I like to bring in other guests that talk about, like we were talking about, emotional wellness and leadership and tie it back in to, I just don’t have law enforcement guests on all the time. I have finance people come on and talk. It all ties back, I don’t care what profession you’re doing but it all relates to everything out there. Certainly I tie it back into law enforcement and how it benefits law enforcement professionals.
David Brower: One of my guests on my podcast over the holidays, I’m running a best of for about a week, one that’s going to air tomorrow or Friday, I can’t remember, I think it’s tomorrow, her name is Peggy Sealfon. She’s an expert on stress and anxiety and she is just oh my God, frickin’ brilliant which is why I picked her to run an extra thing. I’ll send you an MP3 of her, maybe it’s somebody that you might want to have on your deal. ‘Cause she’s just, she’s down to earth, she’s articulate, which I’m obviously not. She gets it man. She communicates in such a way that I’m sitting here going oh, that makes sense to me.
Pat Fitzgibbons: Yeah, I had a scientist that was on a couple weeks ago was talking about brain chemistry and how that affects our thinking and choices and things like that. Some people might think, on first hearing this, some people might be thinking, what does this have to do with law enforcement. It has everything to do with law enforcement. How we think.
David Brower: Yeah, absolutely.
Pat Fitzgibbons: Our actions. It has everything to do. I try to think outside the box and I think I’m doing a good job with that with just a mixture of guests on my show to just have a different take of it. But we can tie it back into the law enforcement and criminal justice.
David Brower: That’s brilliant man. No wonder you’re having such a good time with it. It makes it easier to attract good guests.
Pat Fitzgibbons: It’s great. Yeah, I can’t do it alone David. I got a great team behind me. I got my marketing team and the people who handle my social media, it’s so funny every once in a while my wife will tell me, “Yeah you just tweeted something out.” I’m like, oh, I did? I didn’t even realize that ’cause it’s my team behind me. My team behind me that’s handling my social media. Big shout out to those guys. I couldn’t do it alone like any successful person there’s a great team behind you.
David Brower: With all the, I’m a big fan of looking forwards. What kind of changes do you see you’re facing law enforcement in the future? Some of the same old things are going to stick around for a while but is it the wellness? Is it the emotional mindfulness? Is it more interaction with communities? What do you feel the future holds?
Pat Fitzgibbons: There’s so many different facets to this. I must say, crime is always going to be, there’s always going to be crime. I believe it starts with having good officers at the helm and good officers out there making good decisions and yes, I believe that officers need to be taking care of themselves. Need to exercise, need to eat right and learn how to communicate better. We’re great communicators when it comes with the public but sometimes we have a hard time in our personal lives communicating. We definitely need to keep connecting with the community and get out there and make those connections. That’s a challenge, it’s always going to be a challenge.
Pat Fitzgibbons: Especially in times where something has happened in the media and people are being very critical of law enforcement. That’s not the time to crawl into a shell and say, and have that us against them mentality. That’s the time where we need to get out there and do more community policing and do more connection. That’s a challenge sometimes. That’s always going to be a challenge. We can do it. We serve our communities. we can’t just have that mentality where it’s us against them. For many years it was.
David Brower: Yeah, I hear you. All of us at some level have that fight or flight kind of mentality. That’s human nature. We’ve got to pay attention to that and not just be knee jerk reactions to it.
Pat Fitzgibbons: I’m very optimistic for the future David. Law enforcement is, we’re constantly changing. We’re constantly evolving. We’re constantly learning. It’s a demanding job. We’ve got a lot of issues facing us but we can overcome them but we’re going to need the, we’re going to have that partnership with the community. We’re doing a good job. We’re gaining some ground and it’s a never ending process.
David Brower: This is the opportunity folks for you to help law enforcement gain some ground in that and help educate yourselves along the way and not just assume things that some of us are so good at. That means to go to cjevolution.net and sign up for Patrick’s podcast. I’m assuming your podcast is everywhere there are podcasts.
Pat Fitzgibbons: Yeah, it’s on Stitcher, it’s on Podbean, you can head over to my site. You can get them delivered to your mailbox. I appreciate the plug David. We’re having a great time.
David Brower: It’s an important feature in this world that we’re in and God bless you for bringing to the forefront and taking care of yourself and role modeling for other officers how to do it right. And the community as well obviously. Cjevolution.net and Patrick Fitzgibbons, our criminal justice expert, really enjoyed it man. Thanks for what you do, thanks for your service.
Pat Fitzgibbons: Well thank you sir for having me on and thank you for all the listeners out there. Keep up the good work David.
David Brower: All right, you too man, take care.
Alan: Your 20 Minute podcast with David Brower has been brought to you by Audible. You can listen to any of David’s podcast anywhere podcasts can be found including I Heart Radio, the Spotify mobile app and at davidbrowwervo.com/your20minutepodcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.