By Ed Jacques
Crisis is something most employees attempt to avoid when they arrive at their workplace. For employees of Southfield-based Incident Management Team (IMT), crisis is expected. IMT is the internationally respected crisis management company that responds to calls to the Police Officers Association of Michigan’s Lifeline.
“The important thing is that we get these people immediate help. For a lot of people who are suffering with a problem, if they don’t get assistance with the first call they make, they give up,” said Dr. Ken Wolf. “If the person is calling from somewhere in Michigan that we can’t get to quickly, we make sure we find a professional counselor in their community who can assist them.”
Police trained psychologists and social workers need to be sensitive to stressors that affect law enforcement officers and their families. Some of the more intense stressors are use of deadly force situations, post shooting trauma, suicide of fellow officers, physical encounters that result in serious injury, hostage situations and prolonged rescue operations that may end up with a bad outcome. Also, gruesome scenes, injuries or fatalities to children and situations where officers feel hopeless or powerless. Officers and their families also have stress due to rotating shifts, discomfort with a partner and being absent for many family occasions due to work schedules.
Police officers pride themselves through their professionalism and training that they can approach most situations with a sense of control and the ability to sort out confusion at any scene. However, when the issues are personal, they may not always know the best strategy to cope effectively with problems that make them feel uncomfortable. The POAM Lifeline is a backup resource for them and their families to master personal problems and maintain a positive attitude and career. Dr. Ken Wolf and Marilyn Knight M.S.W. have been operating IMT and working with police departments, police officers and their families since 1980. Their experience of being “backup” for police officers has given them a great understanding of the brotherhood of blue and personal concerns of all law enforcement officers. They are sensitive to the stresses that our members face on the street, in our jails, courts and the bureaucracy in many departments.
Dr. Wolf and Ms. Knight have developed police counseling programs and critical incident debriefing programs for law enforcement departments through the United States and Canada. They were crisis responders at the World Trade Center and Pentagon after the terrorists attacks. Both are currently developing crisis support programs for first responders for MIOSHA and the United States Army after mass casualty incidents and acts of terrorism. IMT employees have handled critical incident stress debriefings at several high-profile tragedies, including the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, mass shootings at the Royal Oak (1991) and Dearborn post offices (1993), and Northwest Airlines plane crashes.
POAM family members who are suffering from depression, alcoholism, marital problems or financial trouble can call the Lifeline’s 24-hour pager number and get an immediate response from one of IMT’s expertly trained counselors. All assistance provided to officers is offered on a strictly confidential basis.
The following are brief profiles of the four IMT professionals who assist POAM members:
Marilyn Knight, M.S.W., is the president/CEO of IMT. She is an international lecturer, presenter and trainer in the areas of workplace violence prevention, crisis response and organizational change. She was a sworn special deputy of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and is a coordinator of the department’s Disaster Response Team. She has assisted in training law enforcement officers in advanced hostage negotiations and critical incident response.
Kenneth Wolf, Ph.D., is the managing partner of IMT, where he consults on workplace violence, threat management, critical incident response and downsizing strategies. A fully licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Wolf has consulted with the U.S. Department of Justice and serves as a senior crisis consultant to several Michigan emergency management response teams. Dr. Wolf is also a certified trainer for the International Critical Incident Foundation which specializes in peer intervention skills.
Lynda Mance, A.C.S.W., serves as IMT’s director of operations. She has spent much of her career working with issues of prevention, education and intervention of violent situations.
Wynonia Ward, M.A. She is a clinical consultant to IMT specializing in family counseling and critical incident response.