Together…. We can make an impact

Sheriff Brian Burnett from Chelan County talks about the importance of his faith on this Flashlight episode.  He talks about how  faith practices have been a foundational for him during his law enforcement career and shares his own strategies for starting his day in the book of Proverbs.  Sheriff Burnett also speaks about the importance of finding connections through mentoring that can provide strength during times of unpredictability.

He mentions a leadership book by Henry Blackaby that he has found very helpful.

Here is the Amazon link to that book: Spiritual Leadership

4-7-8 Breathing

Chris and Lacy Wolff are back for another episode of the Behind the Badge Foundation LEFN Flashlight series. Chris and Lacy are wellness trainers for first responders and in the last episode they spoke about having a sense of  what is external and internal as a form of stress reduction.


In this episode they provide some insightful information into 4 7 8 breathing and why it is so helpful to officer and their families. Lacy and Chris explain and demonstrate this helpful breathing method in a way that is useful for stress that arises during a shift or the stress families feel in the ever-changing circumstances of 2020. This  practical technique is time tested for first responders and simple enough to teach your children.


HERE is an article about 4 7 8 breathing that also says it can be very helpful for falling asleep.


If you’d like more information about Chris and Lacy visit their WEBSITE

Energy Management

In this Flashlight episode brought to you by Behind the Badge Foundation’s Law Enforcement Family Network, Chris and Lacy Wolff talk conserving energy, a topic that is very important for first responders and their families.


Chris and Lacy have worked with the military for years teaching about the importance of physical and emotional resilience. In the next couple of Flashlight episodes, Chris and Lacy are going to talk about wellness from a mental, physical, social, tactical and spiritual perspective.


In this first episode they talk about stoicism and some of the ways that philosophy can be grounding. Here is a good definition of stoicism from an article written by Ryan Holiday and published in Thrive Global.


“Stoicism has just a few central teachings. It sets out to remind us of how unpredictable the world can be. How brief our moment of life is. How to be steadfast, and strong, and in control of yourself. And finally, that the source of our dissatisfaction lies in our impulsive dependency on our reflexive senses rather than logic.”

You can read the entire article HERE

Chris and Lacy talk about understanding what you can control and what you can’t and how understanding the difference helps reduce stress and contribute to wellness.


You may contact Lacy and Chris through their WEBSITE

Beauty in the muck…

Gayle Frink-Schulz, Program Director for Behind the Badge Foundation and a police widow shares about the importance of finding space for healing and for growth. She shares insights she learned while responding to Office Rick Silva’s death. The lotus flower is both beautiful and meaningful and it provided a tangible touch point for the Silva family…and now for Gayle.

Here is an article that more fully explains the significance of the lotus flower. Click Here

Join us for new episodes next week with Chris and Lacy Wolff who will talk about energy management and tactical 4-7-8 breathing. Be sure to subscribe to the Behind the Badge Foundation YouTube Channel so you don’t miss a single episode.

WELCOME to the Flashlight Series

Sparking Conversations….

Brian Johnston, Executive Director of Behind the Badge Foundation, provides details about the upcoming Law  Enforcement Network Flashlight Series.  Upcoming topics include: energy management, stress reduction, sleep issues associated with shift work, couples communication and resilience. New episodes will be up on YouTube and social media twice a week.

Be sure to subscribe to the Behind the Badge Foundation YouTube Channel so you don’t miss a single episode.


Grief Demands to Be Felt: Creating Space to Grieve When You Want to Run Away

Whether you’ve already experienced it or not, all of us will walk through some form of grief in our lifetimes.  That grief can take many different forms, whether through the death of a loved one, the loss of a dream, or recognizing unmet needs from the past.  You may have shown signs with the five stages of grief outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (shock, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance), or you may have taken your own personal path through grief.

Perhaps you’ve been surrounded with loved ones or friends during your grieving period because it has been public.  This often happens in cases such as the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a divorce or separation.

But for others, grief comes when invisible losses happen.  The private nature of these experiences makes their importance harder to acknowledge.  This might include discovering a spouse or family member’s addiction, wrestling through infertility, or experiencing rejection or abandonment in relationships.

Some areas of loss may seem small in comparison to greater tragedies and pain that are occurring in the world.  Know that if this pain is having an impact on you, it matters.  You might be uncovering stories of unmet needs from childhood in therapy, dealing with a chronic or major illness, experiencing generalized anxiety, or seeing the effects of aging.

The Process of Grief

Whether you’re dealing with visible or invisible grief, the process of grieving takes time, attention, and care.

We tend to minimize our own experience of grief in order to carry on with daily life.  As others who are uncomfortable with grief urge us to move forward, we might rush past the experience of sadness in an attempt to “get over it.”  We can be fearful of uncovering grief because we worry that once we feel it, we won’t ever be able to stop.  Facing grief over the loss of a loved one can lead to potential existential fears, such as anxiety about our own death.

Alternatively, we can stay stuck in our grief despite years passing and wish we could move forward through it.  This often happens with we feel stalled out or stuck in the same place years after the loss.  Usually this indicates that there is a certain layer of grief that hasn’t yet been accessed because of the additional pain it brings up.

How to Grieve Well


Do you assume once you start crying, you won’t be able to stop?  Are you fearful of the judgment of others who don’t understand?

Write a list of all the thoughts that immediately come to mind when you think about grief, good or bad.  Review your list and look for cognitive distortions or faulty assumptions.  Notice how they are leading you to feel anxiety.  Anxiety leads us to see only the worst-case scenario, rather than realistic possibilities.  Consider also what the best-case scenario might be of allowing yourself to grieve.

If you have questions you can’t answer, educate yourself on the grieving process.  Learn about the stages of grief. Recognize that they are not linear: you can jump forward and backward through the stages.  Remind yourself that periods of intense grief will not last forever – they will get better over time.  Research online or read books about grief.  Here are some resources to get you started:


These tendencies can be overt, like avoidance of thinking about the loss or refusing to grieve. Or they can be more hidden, like resistance to sitting down and reading a book about grief or leaving information out when talking with a friend.

Instead of getting down on yourself for experiencing these, instead ask yourself why they happen.  They likely came about as a coping strategy to survive the pain of the loss.  Honor what you did to survive.  Then ask yourself what they’re protecting you from: what are you avoiding?  What fears do you have about addressing grief?  What emotions come up when you think about it?


Seek to learn how to sit with uncomfortable emotions.  This might involve getting out a journal and writing or getting together with a friend who can help you verbally process what you’re going through.  Prayer can be a helpful way to sit in challenging emotions, particularly if you couple it with the experience of reading Psalms of lament or writing your own.  These psalms are used to grieve the pain or suffering that exists in the world and can be used as a guide to help you express your own sorrow.

Set yourself a specific time on a regular basis to sit down and check in with your emotions.  It could be a daily, weekly, or monthly practice, depending on how intense your grief feels.  Try a tool like an emotions journal.  Use mindfulness strategies to help you connect to the experience of the present moment both before and after you enter into this space of active grieving.


Sometimes, simply naming an emotion or talking about an experience of grief can provide respite from the pain.  Reach out to safe friends or family members who are willing to sit with you in your grief.

If you don’t feel able to share in your current relationships, look for a grief support group at your local church, hospital, community center, or therapist’s office.  If you’re dealing with grief in the context of addiction, seek out a 12 Step group specific for your concern.


Be curious about what your grief is teaching you over time.  If you’ve journaled, go back over old notes.  If you spoke with a trusted friend or therapist, ask if they’ve seen any themes in what you’ve been sharing.

These learnings can help you approach your life with a different mindset.  You may consider changes you’d like to make in life or people you’d like to spend more time with as a result of this process.  Let this new knowledge and understanding affect your behaviors and choices to better reflect your values.


Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, addresses the importance of finding meaning in suffering and pain.  Similarly, consider how this pain and loss has shaped you or changed your perspective.  Psychologists call this concept post-traumatic growth, pointing out the benefits that come from opportunities for growth and change after surviving trauma or loss. Consider a vision for your future that includes these insights gained from the experience of grief.


by Elizabeth Jackson-Van Sickel

Maya Angelou on Mothers

“I think of mother often,” Maya Angelou told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer. “I think of myself as mother. I think of men as mother—some men. My son has mothered his son, fathered his son. I don’t think you have to be a woman to mother.”

With these sentiments in mind, Angelou, arguably America’s most famous poet, wrote a book in honor of mothers, Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me.

“Yes. It is true. I was created in you,” she read from the book. “It is also true that you were created for me. I own your voice. It was shaped and tuned to sooth me. Your arms were molded into a cradle to hold me, to rock me. The scent of your body was the air perfumed for me to breathe.”

Angelou said a mother did not indulge but loved unconditionally in the deepest possible of ways.

“Love may be the matter that keeps the stars in the firmament. It may be. Love allows you to be tough and tender,” she said. “Love. It does not say you can get away with this and I’ll turn my—because you’re so cute—I’ll turn my back, to something that may harm you later on. No. Love affords you the ability to be courageous.”

In the book that made her famous, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou wrote, “My mother’s beauty literally assailed me. Her smile widened her mouth beyond her cheeks, beyond her years, and seemingly through the walls to the street outside.”

Her mother, she said, was her everything.

Yet her glamorous mother could not handle her small children, and Angelou’s grandmother raised her until she was in her teens. Rather than focus on her wounds, Angelou said she used “the scar to sharpen my pen to write a poem.”

When Angelou was 21 and a young mother, she was holding down two jobs and living on her own. One day, she went to her mother’s house and received some unexpected praise.

“She looked at me and she said, ‘Baby, you know at this minute I want to tell you something.’ She has fox furs on, silver fox furs, and diamond earrings,” Angelou said. “She said, ‘I think you’re the greatest woman I’ve ever met.’ She said, ‘There is of course Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary McLeod Bethune, and my mother. But you’re in that category.’”

“And I thought, ‘Suppose she’s right? Suppose I really am somebody?’ She used to say she was too mean to lie. And she was very intelligent. But maybe it’s about time for me to stop smoking and stop cursing, ’cause I may be somebody.”

Angelou was working on a cable car at the time, and was far from the famous woman she would become, but her mother’s words gave her a sense of her future.

“I have learned enough now, to know I have learned nearly nothing,” she read in another excerpt from her new book. “Only stay when mothers are being honored. Let me thank you, that my selfishness, ignorance and mockery did not bring you to describe me like a broken doll, which had lost its favor. I thank you that you still find something in me to cherish, to admire and to love.”

“I thank you, mother. I love you.”

Reprinted from the ABC article, “Maya Angelou on Mothers”

Grieving During Covid-19

Behind the Badge Foundation received this brief powerful video on grieving the loss of a loved one during these unprecedented times.  Thank you to Code4 NW and the Seattle Police Department for sharing this important message.

To see the video, click HERE

Incredible News for Officer Wellness

We are living in an unprecedented time, a time of uncertainty and stress for all people, but especially for our law enforcement officers.  Acknowledging this reality, it is incredible news for Behind the Badge Foundation to announce the passage of two pieces of legislation specific to officer wellness which were enacted into law today by Governor Inslee today.  This collaborative work accomplished in the 2020 Legislative Session is vitally important to law enforcement officers across the state of Washington.  SB 6570 and HB 2926 will provide for the further development of programming directly supporting law enforcement officer mental health and wellness, as well as critical incident stress management.    

This important work could not have been accomplished with the support and partnership of the following people and organizations. Please help us in thanking the following: 

The Honorable Jay Inslee, Governor 

SB 6570 – Sponsors  

Concerning law enforcement officer mental health and wellness.  

Prime Sponsor: Sen. Curtis King  

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña  

Sen. Keith Wagoner  

Sen. Liz Lovelett  

Sen. Claire Wilson  

HB 2926 – Sponsors  

Expanding access to critical incident stress management programs.  

Prime Sponsor: Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber  

Rep. Brian Blake  

Rep. Joel Kretz  

Rep. Drew MacEwen  

Rep. Luanne Van Werven  

Rep. Gina Mosbrucker  

Rep. Jenny Graham  

Rep. Larry Hoff  

Rep. Dan Griffey  

Rep. Drew Stokesbary  

Rep. Kelly Chambers  

Rep. Alex Ybarra  

Rep. Tom Dent  

Rep. Andrew Barkis  

Rep. Keith Goehner  

Rep. Bruce Chandler  

Rep. Joel Kraft  

Rep. Roger Goodman  

Rep. John Lovick  

Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self  

Rep. Tana Senn  

Rep. Chris Gildon  

Rep. Mike Sells  

Rep. Matt Boehnke  

Rep. Lauren Davis  

Rep. Norma Smith  

Rep. Mary Dye  

Rep. Tina Orwall  

Rep. Carolyn Eslick  

Rep. Sharon Shewmake  

Rep. Gerry Pollet  

Rep. Marcus Riccelli  

Rep. Paul Harris  

Jennifer Ziegler   

Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs (WACOPS): Teresa Taylor and Jeff DeVere  

Council of Metropolitan Police & Sheriffs (COMPAS) : Renee Maher  

Pat Dunn    

Susan Dunn   

Washington State Patrol Troopers Association (WSPTA)  

Washington State Patrol Captains and Lieutenants Association (WSPLCA) 

Letter from the Executive Director…

To our friends.
We have all been affected by the current issues surrounding the COVID-19 virus and the measures that have been taken to reduce its spread. We want to let you know a few things. First, none of the services that we offer to our law enforcement community have been disrupted by COVID-19. We have taken appropriate precautions and will continue to fulfill our duties to the best of our ability into the foreseeable future. However, due to the ongoing public health crisis and the moratorium established by the State of Washington and the King County Health District as well as the recommendations published by the CDC, Behind the Badge Foundation has no other alternative than to cancel and/or re-schedule all events and trainings through April.

This includes:

  • GR/IN Critical Incident Stress Management, March 16-18, Bellingham Rescheduled Fall
  • Northwest Region Honor Guard Training, March 23-26, Yakima Reschedule October
  • 22nd Annual Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial Ball and Auction, April 4, SeaTac – Possible Reschedule, May 9
  • Fun with the Fuzz 5K, April 18, Bellingham – Canceled

We are working on rescheduling both of these trainings. Please look forward to them in the early fall.

22nd Annual Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial Ball and Auction

We have always seen the WSLEM Ball and Auction as an event not only to Fundraise but to also “Friend-raise”. For 22 years our supporters and friends from all over the region have come together to honor those that have gone before us and to be with each other in fellowship and celebrate the life and achievements of law enforcement officers and their families. This year we believed this celebration was especially necessary; emergency service workers are always on the front line in advance of the rest of the community when faced with the unknown or impending peril. We had hoped that we would be able to provide respite from the current crisis. When April cancellation became apparent, our committee worked very hard to come up with an alternate date. As of today, there is a possibility we will be capable of rescheduling for May 9th at our host hotel the Seattle Airport Hilton. This is dependent on several factors including the availability of certain vendors as well as updated health advisories.  Starting next week, we will be reaching out to every registered attendee and sponsor to process refunds and returns should you not be able to attend.

Fun with the Fuzz 5K

Due to the enormous undertaking, Fun with the Fuzz 5k in Bellingham will not be rescheduled at this time.  This event, like the WSLEM Ball and Auction, has a substantial following and we understand the disappointment of all our attendees on the cancellation of this substantial fun run. Information on refunds will be forthcoming.

I would like to take a moment and recognize the efforts and all the hard work done by our volunteers for both 22nd Annual Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial Ball and Auction and Fun with the Fuzz 5K. Both committees have worked tirelessly over the last 7 months to produce quality fun events with a purpose. To say this is a labor of love would be an understatement. Our existence and many of the broad range of services we are able to provide are available because of good hearted volunteer committee members.

We are keeping a close eye on the ongoing statistical information and the messaging coming from our governing officials and our health officials. In the next several days we will be examining that information along with our May calendar which also includes a Peace Officers Memorial/Medal of Honor on May 8th in Olympia as well as National Police Week in Washington DC.

In closing, we would like to thank all our emergency responders and our support entities within those agencies. Law enforcement officers, correctional officers, life safety firefighters, paramedics, physicians, nurses, dispatchers, support and administrative staff and so many others; we know that you don’t have the option to stay home. We know that you are working hard and that you continue to put yourselves at risk day in and day out. Know that we are forever in your debt.

In the coming days we will attempt to keep you informed and up to date as to our current status.


Brian Johnston

Executive Director