By LUCINDA HOLT
In 2000, the Lubbock Police Department developed its Victim Services Crisis Team with Dr. Andy Young providing assistance with his background in counseling.
Tackling a different type of task a year later, Young was faced with one of the most difficult challenges in his career when had to assist in a SWAT team call out in which an officer was shot and killed in a friendly fire situation.
“And so it would be early on,” Young said, “and the officers didn’t know me, and so to have something so tragic and difficult happen — that was a very trying time for everybody — and I learned a lot and had to do a lot on the fly.”
Young said he often reflects on this story during conferences, and it is one of many in a 13-chapter book he wrote titled, “Fight or Flight: Negotiating Crisis on the Front Line.”
The idea of compiling his stories came from a conference after Young was approached by a fellow speaker who suggested he write a book.
Taking the advice, Young began putting the idea into motion as he worked from stories he had already composed.
If a call weighed heavily on Young, he said he would write it down for the therapeutic component, but after he got serious, the process took more than a year.
With the help of family and friends, editors and his publishing company, Young said his book was finally able to come to fruition and he has received positive feedback ever since.
“I started with the last chapter,” he read a reader’s email aloud. “Powerful and succinct work, but even more importantly, I cried.”
The tales are Young’s own from his experience on the team.
With stories involving several themes, Young details the work and stress of the team as they come in and help when emotions are high.
According to the LPD website, the volunteer team assists victims by providing a variety of on-scene services including counseling.
“At the request of a police officer,” the team’s statement reads, “the Crisis Team volunteers will respond to victims, families, and friends involved in crisis situations such as assaults, suicides or threats of suicide, family violence/domestic disturbances, child abuse/neglect, homicide, suicide, traffic accidents, etc.”
Lubbock police Lt. Mike Steen said the team comes in handy as they step in and fill the void after police leave a scene.
In a time of crisis, he said, people are often left with questions and the team will assist with further information in order to help families reach the next step in healing.
Steen said the book helps show how Dr. Young and the team helps put families’ lives back together, while showing the behind-the-scene side of policing that is not shown on tv.
One of those scenes discussed in the book, are death notifications.
Young said his book details the emotions involved for both victims and police, as families learn of the passing of their loved one.
Sometimes knocking on a stranger’s door in the middle of the night, people receive the news from officers.
Stories like this can be found through the pages, as Young gives about four to five tales per chapter.
Originally published on October 27, 2015, Young has been speaking at conferences and promoting his book in an effort to give people an inside look at the perils and passion that comes with a career in law enforcement.
As the team of 35 work in assisting those faced with crisis, he said its easy for the public to judge policing based on half-truths.
“I think our society is making a mistake making these judgments just based on that and getting emotional about things based on partial information or based on what they believed to be true.”
While he calls the book’s timing coincidental in relation to societal tensions involving law enforcement, he said it can be beneficial for the kinds of conversations people are having these days.
Echoing Young, Steen said the book will help show readers how police are human, and like everyone else, they have families.
Even though they feel the emotional affects of their duties, someone has to do the work.
Young said he hopes the honest-telling of these stories will help provide some insight to the hardships law enforcement faces on a daily basis.
“It’s hard to summarize 16 years in a book,” Young said, “but there’s a start.”