Toll high for stressed police

He has written about his experiences as a police officer in 9370 � Sooner or Later Everyone Pays a Price: A Memoir About Front Line Policing.

He said post-traumatic stress (PTS) was something that remained etched in people�s subconscious for the rest of their life.

�You can learn to manage it with therapy and counselling, but sadly many haven�t come back from it because they take their life before they give themselves a chance to get better,� he said.

�It is soul-destroying and at its worst suicidal. Untreated and exposed to a constant accumulation of PTS incidents is a mental time bomb.�

Mr Yates compared his experience to that of soldiers in combat. He said they experienced a range of stressful situations �outside of the range of usual human experience� and police officers often did not receive the community support they needed either.

He comes back to the war analogy often, asking readers to �think of Anzac and Remembrance Day, to observe the old Diggers with their chest full of ribbons and medals, with tears streaming from their eyes�.

They are still affected by incidents that happened to them many years ago.

�I have good days and not-so-good days; it is a daily fight to stay positively focused,� he said.

�I�m a long way from that black hole I was in years ago.�

There are also often financial repercussions for officers affected by PTS.

�Police officers who are forced to medically retire because of PTS are not covered by worker�s compensation,� he said.

�Unemployed, they become financially responsible for their own medical costs.

�There is no after-care support or help for treatment and counselling.�

This is due to a loophole where the WA Government considers police officers as holders of a public office.

�It�s saying you can be a police officer at your own risk. If you get injured while on the job and can�t work anymore, you don�t matter, you are on your own,� he said.

Ultimately, Mr Yates wants other officers who are struggling with PTS to know they are not alone.

�It�s not a weakness. There is hope, the condition can be managed,� he said.

�I want to promote more understanding between the community and police.

�I wanted to share my moments of truth that were stranger than fiction.

�There were so many of them and readers can be forgiven if they think the stories were made up but they are all real; they did happen.�