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BOOK REVIEW Leenaars


March 30, 2015
By Antoon Leenaars

Daniel Rudofossi (2015). Springfield, ILL: Charles C. Thomas.

Reviewed by Antoon A. Leenaars

Many people make significant contributions to established fields of service such as policing and psychology, but few are vouchsafed to work, contribute and, most important, teach students in both fields.

New York’s Cop Doc Daniel Rudofossi is the real deal. Sgt. Dan was a sworn police officer and police psychologist with the NYPD. He understands the mentally ill person on the street and on the couch. In his new book, Rudofossi explicates an assessment and intervention guide for public service professionals, earning an A+.

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Rudofossi writes about the problems the mentally ill encounter and the difficulties in everything from suicide prevention and intervention to incidences of police brutality and even murder. (As with psychologists, there are a few bad cops.)

Almost daily we read in the press about traumatic confrontations between police and civilians, including some which turn deadly. Unlike the press, Rudofossi supports police officers and helps to build resilience towards what he has called ‘racism’ towards police, to the point of a mentally ill person killing officers (think Mayerthorpe) and even their families. Like any good clinician, he ends his book with self-esteem (hardiness) building.

“Outsiders such as the media folk, politicians and legal counsel are likely to be unaware of the real world you are called on to respond to,” writes Rudofossi.

The mentally ill present a vast array of divergent ‘worlds.’ How do you approach them? Although Rudofossi does not think you have to be a psychologist/psychiatrist, he helps readers to better understand each unique individual.

There’s Tara, an oppositional defiant – conduct disordered teen; Mrs. Jones, a complex trauma/grief senior; Mr. Green, who is paranoid; Mr. Honey Poney, who has an addictive personality disorder; Joe Doe, who has a bipolar-disorder and Jason Shin, who is schizophrenic.

There are many more unique people with mental (brain) disorders. (As an aside, the brain is in the anatomy book). The key, says Rudofossi, is “understanding” each uniquely (being person-centered [oriented]). His advice is to stop, pause, & listen! (Don’t jump to conclusions.)

Although I cannot repeat all the helpful facts, I will paraphrase a few thoughts on Shin because people with schizophrenia are so different from you or I. Rudofossi suggests that you watch Rod Sterling’s to learn about the surreal. Unlike the Hollywood presentation, schizophrenic people experience true horror – forever. The key is psychosis, which is defined simply as the inability to discriminate between real and unreal (yes, you might be the “Devil”). It is madness, often with paranoia, resulting sometimes in suicide, homicide and/or suicide by cop.

Rudofossi advocates the use of redirection and “verbal aikido.”

“You are the police,” says Shin. “You’re here to take me away from my dad, and you are the Devil’s sister, right?… You and Yogi Berra want to melt me away like the wicked witch into the Atlantic Coast.”

If you want to know what to do and say next, this is your book. “This down-to-earth guide will help you achieve a lower likelihood of danger and loss of limb and life by officer and civilian alike,” writes Rudofossi.

From my years of working in forensic cases such as suicide-by-cop and teaching, including at the Ontario Police College, I know that officers will like this book. They are committed to doing their duty the best that they can and are eager for state of the art “tools” to deal with the mentally ill – Rudofossi calls this “understanding.”

Rudofossi gives public safety professionals effective roadmaps to wisely respond to the psychologically disordered. I predict that this book will save the lives of both officers and the mentally ill.

BIO

Dr. Antoon A. Leenaars is a Windsor clinical and forensic psychologist who has worked extensively with police services throughout Canada. He is the author of, among other books, and . Contact: draalee@sympatico.ca.


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