The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership

The CopDoc Podcast Ep027 - Interview with Dr. Michele Bratina, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

June 21, 2021 Dr. Michele Bratina Season 1 Episode 27
The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership
The CopDoc Podcast Ep027 - Interview with Dr. Michele Bratina, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Show Notes Transcript

This week we interview Dr. Michele Bratina from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. We talked about forensic mental health, the rise in mental health-related police calls and the mental well-being of respond offers to serious incidents, and the cumulative effect of difficult calls.  Michele has written journal articles and is an expert in Mental Health, having written Forensic Mental Health: Integrating Solutions in Criminal Justice for Routledge Publishing. 

A wide-ranging and intriguing interview. Thanks for your support and for listening as The CopDoc Podcast continues to grow, across the U.S. and Canada, and across the globe!

[00:00:02.640] - Intro 

Welcome to The CopDoc Podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas, the cop dog shares thoughts and ideas as he talks with leaders in policing, communities, academia and other government agencies. And now please join Dr. Steve Morreale and industry thought leaders as they share their insights and experience on The CopDoc Podcast.


[00:00:39.270] - Steve Morreale

Hello, everybody, this is Steve Morreale, and you're listening to The CopDoc Podcast, another episode, this time we're talking to a colleague, Michele Bratina, who is in Pennsylvania right now working for West Chester University.


[00:00:51.600] - Steve Morreale

She's a professor and a former practitioner. And so we welcome her this afternoon. Michele, welcome. And thanks for being here.


[00:00:57.900] - Michele Bratina

Well, thank you so much for having me, Steve. It's a pleasure. It's great to be here.


[00:01:01.770] - Steve Morreale

I want to help the audience and the listeners understand who the hell you are, where, where you've been, where you're from, what you're doing. We'll talk about the book. We'll talk about your teaching. We'll talk about the goings on in criminal justice and law enforcement today. And so that'll be the topic. So tell us about yourself.


[00:01:20.370] - Michele Bratina

OK, so I didn't realize this was a week-long series. So you get New Jersey one day and then the next day Pennsylvania. Is that it? So about myself? I am, I'm from a lot of places. My father was deceased now, but when he was alive and working, he was in the casino industry. So we lived in Atlantic City. We lived in Reno, Nevada, Las Vegas, a bunch of different places in between. But I'll say I'm from New Jersey because that's where I spent most of my childhood, most of my life, and that is South Jersey, OK, part of the state.


[00:01:52.710] - Steve Morreale

So, yeah. Background. So, now you're now your professor. But what took you in that direction? What did you do?


[00:01:59.520] - Michele Bratina

So most of my life. I went to school. I did what I had to do and I worked in the casino industry, but also the food and beverage industry. I come from a long line of waitresses, food servers, things like that. So I went I took that path for a while. So I did. I graduated high school, but it took me about six years before I finally made the decision that I needed to go to college.


[00:02:22.950] - Michele Bratina

So I was not at the top of my class when I graduated high school. So it was a little bit of a different journey for me than some of my colleagues. However, eventually my family, we moved to Pennsylvania, family, friends brought us here, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where I'm at presently. And so at that time, I was still waitressing and I just made the decision. I thought, I need to do something else.


[00:02:46.830] - Michele Bratina

There has to be something else. And I decided to take some classes. Penn State had a local campus, Penn State Berks, which is not too far from where I live now. And I started taking a couple of classes and decided that I wanted to pursue law in some way. So my idea was I would get my bachelor's degree and I would move on to law school. My grades were there, which I ended up being an incredible student.


[00:03:11.370] - Michele Bratina

Surprise, surprise, really high GPA and got me into. I took the LSAT, got into a law school which brought me to Arkansas. Steve, I don't even know if you know this about me, OK? Do you want me to continue to go? Do I do so I will say blood, sweat and tears because it was between balancing. I was twenty seven, twenty seven. When I graduate, I had to go to a different campus of Penn State.


[00:03:41.430] - Michele Bratina

So it's Penn State, Harrisburg to graduate waitress part-time and then full-time finishing my studies got my bachelor's degree in applied behavioral science. That kind of sets up the future for me right there. So I didn't not have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Though. wWhile at Penn State, Harrisburg, I met one of my very good mentors, Dr. Barbara Simms. I'm not sure if you're familiar or not.


[00:04:05.610] - Michele Bratina

Well, I know or OK, she's at Mars right now. Yes. Yes, exactly. Amazing woman. I took one of her classes, a theory class as an elective, and I ended up falling in love with that side of things. And I just got really interested in I knew I wanted law school. So to me it all made sense. She took me under her wing and that's how that connection was formed. So moving forward, I graduated.


[00:04:28.350] - Michele Bratina

I went on to law school in Arkansas, Little Rock, and I did the whole first year, Steve, I did the whole first year and actually got out of there with a 3.0, with working and everything. I don't even know how that happened, but I did. And during the summer, after my first year of law school, I started clerking for the Arkansas Municipal League for an attorney there. And what we did was we defended police and other city officials or town officials for civil civil matters under the color of law, section nineteen eighty three suits.


[00:04:59.520] - Michele Bratina

So I worked for this attorney and at some point that summer I decided I did not want to go back, that I wanted to pursue something different. And fast forward again, I ended up talking to Barbara Simms and she suggested that I talk to the folks at other law, which was the college, not the law school itself about going into criminal justice. I met Jeff Walker, who you probably also know Dr. Jeff Walker, who was former president of SJS.


[00:05:27.150] - Michele Bratina

Yes, he was my mentor at ULAR Law while I got my master's degree there. And people at that program, including he and Dr. David Montague, kind of. Molded me and shaped me and inspired me to pursue the PhD, and that's what brought me back to Pennsylvania because my PhD is actually from the criminology program at IAP, Indiana University, Pennsylvania. So that's my that's my academic journey.


[00:05:51.260] - Steve Morreale

So let's talk about that. So you've had some experience in the field, talk about that.


[00:05:54.590] - Michele Bratina

So while I was finishing up my my doctoral studies, I ended up finding out I was having a child. Baby was a surprise by very of course, happy, thrilled that it happened. But it took me to Florida because that's where my mother was and I needed help. I moved to Florida and there about a month I applied for a bunch of different jobs just because I was finished getting my dissertation started and all of that.


[00:06:22.940] - Michele Bratina

And I. I applied for a position at the jail in St. Lucie County. I lived I moved to the East Coast, Treasure Coast, St. Lucie County. I applied for a jail position for a reentry specialist. And I ended up getting a call one day from somebody who wanted who said Dr. George Wordly wanted to interview me for the forensic coordinator position for Judicial Circuit 19, which was four counties, including St. Lucie. And I said to her, I never I don't that I applied for this job.


[00:07:03.920] - Michele Bratina

And she said, I'm I'll let him explain this to you. And she told me a little bit of background. Basically, Steve, I had applied for the jail job and the woman in charge of the hiring. There was a very close friend with Dr. Wordly and knew he was looking for someone. She thought I was better qualified for that. So she gave him my information and that's how it happened. So my job as forensic and children's mental health coordinator for the Judicial Circuit 19, that's how it happened.


[00:07:34.190] - Michele Bratina

And it was the best thing that ever happened to me in terms of my career. That's when everything took a shift.


[00:07:40.340] - Steve Morreale

Let's talk us talk to us about that job. So all of a sudden now you're going from you're in the midst of a dissertation. You're doing research, presumably, and now you're back in Florida and you've got this job that you didn't even apply for. And it brings you into the forensic world, into mental health. So what was the job? What did you have to do?


[00:08:02.690] - Michele Bratina

Oh, my gosh. What didn't I have to do? Is more the question, so. Wow. So a couple of different things, so there's the forensic piece and the children's mental health piece, I'll quickly go through each. So the forensic was a forensic adults and Florida has incredible forensic mental health system or they did at the time. I know it's been restructured, but nevertheless, they're doing such amazing things there. Well, anyway, this position, the coordinator I went to, I had oversight.


[00:08:35.460] - Michele Bratina

My primary role was oversight of the contracts, the behavioral health contracts in our four county area, the providers that served forensic adult clients. So there's a lot of these individuals were adjudicated as incompetent to proceed to trial and were not guilty by reason of insanity. So they were acquitted, not guilty by reason of insanity. So under the Florida statutes, a lot of these individuals found themselves in forensic hospitals getting competency training. Some of them others were sentenced or moved civilly to state hospitals and my and not guilty by reason of insanity.


[00:09:20.610] - Michele Bratina

I would go periodically and make visits to the state hospitals. I spent a lot of my time in mental health court because St. Lucie and Martin County, which were two of my counties, had strong mental health. Port St. Lucie was huge. So I was there on behalf of the State Department of Children. My main employer was the Department of Children and Families, and that's the entity in the state of Florida who monitors and kind of monitors the treatment and the pathway of individuals who are forensic forensic involved.


[00:09:55.020] - Michele Bratina

So mental health court competency hearings, state hospital visits. I had oversight of two forensic specialists who worked for our community mental health folks under contract. And I would go through the cases that each of their cases and I would kind of I would have to sometimes speak to the court on behalf of the state and make recommendations for one of our clients, or I'd go to the local jail when there were issues. There was so much to that, Steve.


[00:10:24.420] - Michele Bratina

I learned so much. I actually did some training in that position where I would go to crisis intervention team. I was part of the steering committee for the Treasure Coast Crisis Intervention Team CIT with the police and others. And I would deliver training. I'd sat on the board, I did training a lot of different trainings involving criminal justice officials or practitioners. But then there was also the children's mental health side.


[00:10:47.790] - Steve Morreale

So as you're talking with people and you're making these travels, were you talking to some of the some of those who were brought in or were you talking to clients? Were you talking to some of those brought In?  Some of the clients?


[00:10:58.410] - Michele Bratina

Absolutely.  Again, sometimes when in mental health court, I would meet with the clients or after they gave the report to the judge, when they were on the docket, I would introduce myself. I'd sit there with the forensic specialists who I had oversight of. We went to group homes. We had to license different entities. I also sat with those individuals and we went across the counties to do that. I got to meet with some of our clients that way.


[00:11:24.120] - Michele Bratina

A lot of times at the jail or in mental health court mostly I'd say, Steve, but I did get the opportunity to sit in a couple of treatment teams at the state hospitals, which was, to be quite honest, the first time I went to the forensic specialist, her name was Liz. She saw my apprehension. It was the first time I had ever been in a state hospital in that capacity. And several of the patients were kind of approaching me all at once.


[00:11:48.540] - Michele Bratina

And they were very ill individuals. And I have to be honest, I was a little bit taken aback by it until I got comfortable in my surroundings. But I met with clients there and I sat through treatment team meeting for an individual who had done some pretty horrific crimes to another multiple other individuals. But he was in their face, probably in there for the rest of his life in the state hospital.


[00:12:12.120] - Steve Morreale

So the same time, it sounds like you're in the midst of your dissertation research. What was that on?


[00:12:18.150] - Michele Bratina

So that was actually Latino, Latino attitudes toward violence in the context of culture, conflict theory. And the reason for that is because my mentors in Little Rock, specifically Jeff Walker, pushed me kind of in that direction to study Latino and Latino crime because there was a pretty large influx in Little Rock at the time. So that kind of followed me at up because it was something I was familiar with. So that was my dissertation research was Latino attitudes toward violence.


[00:12:49.230] - Steve Morreale

In hindsight, what would you have preferred to focus on the work that you were doing?


[00:12:53.610] - Michele Bratina

No, no. Because at the time and even now, I find that a lot of what I learned through that study and the research that I did open my mind up and made me a more a. Educated individual regarding culture, conflict, and even, Steve, even discomfort among human beings who feel stigmatized and I think that I'm speaking of Latinos and I feel that that really helped me with what I'm doing now, stigmatization. That is because that's a huge part of what I teach.


[00:13:25.750] - Michele Bratina

So in the criminal justice system.


[00:13:28.160] - Steve Morreale

So what are you teaching now?


[00:13:29.430] - Michele Bratina

I teach a class called Forensic Mental Health. It's become one of the most popular offerings. And it was that way. I designed it when I went to my first institution out of the gate, which was Shippensburg University. And they wanted me, I think, for that class. And I taught it there and the students seemed to love it. And then when I when I came over to Westchester, I've grown it's grown quite a bit.


[00:13:52.480] - Michele Bratina

But yes, it's the same content for the most part.


[00:13:55.060] - Steve Morreale

Is that generally your focus, your teaching, anything else?


[00:13:57.430] - Michele Bratina

So I teach that class to undergrads and now I've developed a well, I had taught in a ship as well, a graduate level course called mental health in the criminal justice system, which is a lot more intense. And of course, we're looking more at research and things of that sort where upper level. So I teach that class as well. And we're trying to get that as a permanent elective offering as we speak. So forensic mental health, mental health in the criminal justice system.


[00:14:23.320] - Michele Bratina

And I also teach criminological theory.


[00:14:25.600] - Steve Morreale

That's good to know. So you've written a book/ Talk about that.


[00:14:28.030] - Michele Bratina

So the book. Oh, my gosh, I feel so blessed and honored to have been given that opportunity. So the book it is called Forensic Mental Health, of course, Forensic Mental Health Framing, Integrated Solutions. And it's by the amazing folks at Routledge, Taylor and Francis. They've been great, especially Ellen Boyne. Of course. I don't know if you've met Ellen. I think you have Steve.


[00:14:51.510] - Steve Morreale

I have. Yes.


[00:14:52.810] - Michele Bratina

And she's an amazing human. But that book was very it was inspired by my experience in Florida, really, because it's really the first big project I took on after having lived that practitioner experience. So I brought a lot of it in and I brought a lot of the folks who I worked with previously in the field. I had them do little snapshots, kind of call out features in the book. So it's both the books from really from my heart, from everything that I've learned and I'm still learning.


[00:15:23.320] - Michele Bratina

But that experience gave me tremendous insight and it brought me where I am now, which I'm very grateful for.


[00:15:30.220] - Steve Morreale

So policing and corrections and the courts, of course, they're all impacted tremendously by mental health and the rise in mental health crises. And we're watching what happens sometimes when the police are called to scenes where there is an incident, the incident, as they begin to realize that may be caused by somebody who is mentally unstable at that time. Sometimes it's an overreaction and sometimes with training, police handle it quite well. The big deal we're hearing is the cry for defunding so that we can bring more clinicians and social workers to the scene, basically to trump police.


[00:16:04.000] - Steve Morreale

But police are being called, as you know, Michel, they're being called constantly, 24/7. When the clinicians not available, the social worker is not available and 911, because somebody sees something out of sorts out of order, call the police. And they're the first ones to show they don't even know what they're going to. What's your take on that and what kinds of changes does the system have to have to look at to address the rise in mental health crisis?


[00:16:29.560] - Michele Bratina

Wow, such a good question, because this has been for the past, to be honest, Steve, the past month especially. I mean, this is an ongoing thing, of course, a conversation. For the past month, I have been involved with more projects involving that very thing that we're talking about, police and the frequent fliers and the nine one one calls and the mental health crisis, psychiatric crisis calls and what to do when defunding and bringing in co responders.


[00:16:58.390] - Michele Bratina

And I have been so engaged in these conversations, the counties here in Pennsylvania and outside of Pennsylvania, I'm just going to focus on here because that's where I am right now. They're doing incredible things. My thoughts about this, I know that there are that the police nine one one is the go to for many of these folks we know. So I did a research project, a small little project in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, when I was at Shippensburg.


[00:17:25.180] - Michele Bratina

They wanted to look at a number of 911 calls that involved psychiatric crisis calls. So the database was huge. All these calls coming in, there were people who called 911 multiple times, just one person. And a lot of these folks were elderly, some had dementia, others had other neurological deficits, others mental illness as well. And the police were just constantly going out there. So they're doing something called the follow up. They're calling it a follow up team where they'll send clinicians out if a person is what they call a frequent flier.


[00:18:02.560] - Michele Bratina

Our referral is made by the police to the clinician. This follow up. And now it's a team they had to bring on multiple folks and they go out and they meet the person, they contact them somehow they'll visit or call, they give them resources to try to kind of divert these calls away from them. And the point is, it's it's still the go to. And so police, whether they're trained or not, like you said, they encountered these citizens in crisis frequently.


[00:18:29.860] - Michele Bratina

And the police are doing for the most part, they're doing an incredible job. We talk about this with police, talk about it with my student. We give the police a hammer, right? We give them a hammer and we send them out to these calls and they get there and they realize, wait a minute, I need a saw, I need a screwdriver. I need all these multiple tools. But all I have is this one. And this is all you've trained me for.  This is all you've given me. So there's that frustration and the police express it. There's so much we need to be doing. I feel like we do need to continue to train the police because, as you know, they are the ones who are going to be the ones who are being trained. They are able to navigate those calls easier. And the stigma that is usually there in the beginning kind of fades. And they get to know this and they feel more comfortable responding to those calls.


[00:19:22.060] - Michele Bratina

So I feel that training is necessary. But also the corespondent model that has grown very popular now, which is the social worker or the mental health tech going along to the call with the officer, I think is a great model that we should be looking at implementing more throughout the states, throughout the jurisdictions.


[00:19:40.840] - Steve Morreale

Yesterday I had an interview which has not yet been launched, b. Ut with Sarah Abbott, Dr. Sarah Abbott, and she was a correspondent and later the supervisor of response in Massachusetts. And she talks about that. And if he was the first in the first clinician to be in a police vehicle. Actually, it was released yesterday.


[00:19:56.170] - Steve Morreale

It's fascinating because the police were the police themselves were reluctant to have a  clinician in the car. And once they realized what they brought to the table, the language that they can speak with other clinicians and with other psychiatric units and the authority that they have, I think the police became relieved that they didn't have to make these decisions on their own.


[00:20:17.380] - Steve Morreale

So I think that's an important that's an important thing. So you're doing some great work to try to push it forward. So here's the question. Your book was written as a text for the most part, other pieces from that that a police department can use. Are there other pieces that you can write that that could, I hate to use dumbed down, but would be more understandable or for use in the field?


[00:20:37.630] - Michele Bratina

I believe so. And in fact, I don't want to point to the last chapter because I feel like there's places throughout the book where there's information that could certainly be used. I mean, if my students, who mostly are undergraduate at this point, they're contacting me after the police academy and I've had this happen multiple times since I've been teaching the class. They'll say to me, Dr. Bratina, I remember when we talked about police officer wellness or all these different the co-responder. You know, I saw we're doing it and they're all excited and they feel like they know the language a little bit.


[00:21:10.150] - Steve Morreale

They had an inside track on it because you had exposed them.


[00:21:12.460] - Michele Bratina

Yes. And it's incredible. Yes. And the language, it's the language like I've had students who went to Ocean City, New Jersey, in an internship for the police department there in the summer and ended up getting hired later. They've reached out to this is from years ago and said we were talking about officer and I had to bring somebody in and this person had mental health that we were saying this person was decompensating.


[00:21:33.910] - Michele Bratina

We got that word from you, Bratina, and we knew what we were talking about. You know, they're very there, feel like they're using it. And I get it a lot. But the last chapter of the current edition, and I say that because I am right this moment working on the second edition of the book. So a lot of these things related to police, even a lot of the developments that have happened. Unfortunately, unfortunate developments will go in this next edition.


[00:21:57.310] - Michele Bratina

More so. But the last chapter of the current edition sets out policy. So it sets out steps the county level practitioner level could take to integrate the system and make things to improve, to improve things.


[00:22:11.980] - Steve Morreale

So let me ask you, let's extend this conversation and you just brought it up. Officer Wellness, dealing with the trauma of police, of corrections officers, of juvenile workers, of court workers that are exposed to some serious things. What are you suggesting should happen so that we're focusing not only on the end user, but the responders themselves?


[00:22:36.310] - Michele Bratina

That has been something that has been avoided in discussion and it needs to be addressed head on. So we talk about things that individual jurisdictions can do, different departments related to I to use this expression, but changing the culture in a way of the department itself to reduce stigma, stigma associated with officers seeking help and support to get through these types of traumatic. Stress or accumulated stress or secondary trauma, as we talked about before, so I know, for example, that there is an area not too far from me or from campus where the police have gotten kind of made connections through the Fraternal Order of Police NFLPA.


[00:23:23.400] - Michele Bratina

And they're starting a program where they're somehow connected to the provider of mental health services for the department or the county or the jurisdiction they've partnered up. And they're making it so that there are three free sessions for therapy sessions for officers who are interested in attending or going or taking this benefit. And the FOP is promoting it. So now with that in mind, other officers who I've spoken with, but the police who I have spoken with are trying to now they want to connect with officers who are involved in that and move it into another jurisdiction because they recognize the need for this type of thing.


[00:24:03.690] - Michele Bratina

Mental health, first aid training talks a lot about officer wellness. And I know some of the mental health first aid trainers are police themselves, corrections staff, just encouraging therapeutic intervention, seeking out therapy, reducing the stigma associated with getting help.


[00:24:22.320] - Steve Morreale

Let me say this. So in the number of interviews that I have done, many of the leaders are starting to tell me and being very open and forthright that they themselves have found great benefit with reaching out to a clinician, to a psychiatrist or psychologist to talk things through. And because unfortunately, myself, having been in the business, there are things that I have seen over time that in the past it's and I still, I suppose, keep it in a box.


[00:24:47.640] - Steve Morreale

But once in a while it opens up. I was talking to commissioner of the Boston Police Department, former commissioner of the police department. He indicated that when he showed up at the Boston Marathon bombing, his feelings and you could see viscerally how he's reacting to it. He's extremely emotional. And I was getting goosebumps, by the way he was telling it. It was so heartfelt and so chilling and numbing, what he experienced, what he saw and certainly more people than him.


[00:25:11.430] - Steve Morreale

He showed up after the fact and the people who were there at the time, and I liken it to handling multiple any number of things, multiple fatals that I've been at. At the 9/11 going down to Ground Zero and seeing that within 12 hours of the episode. And nobody ever came to me and said, do you want to talk to somebody? Just never happened. And I think that's a big mistake. And Commissioner Davis said that he had sought some psychiatric assistance, and when he saw the benefit for himself, he began to push it through and suggested that virtually everybody got that opportunity to talk it through.


[00:25:43.350] - Steve Morreale

And so that the stigma that you talked about, when the leaders are willing to do it, it's of great value. So what you're talking about, I think, is very important. And to focus on is important. And the more you can talk about it inside the classroom and in the organizations that you get to go and chat with, that it can be very valuable to come from you, even if you're just planting the seed.


[00:26:01.780] - Michele Bratina

I appreciate that. And I could not agree with you more. And I feel like it already has been just based on things that I obviously cannot talk about here, specific cases where people have come to me, but education, open mindedness, buy in, like you said from the leaders, absolutely is so essential. I will say that one of the police departments I've talked to about doing some research in the future, immediate future, said about the FOP program I mentioned he loved the idea.


[00:26:31.200] - Michele Bratina

He's going to spin it by some people in his county, but he said for morale officer morale. So not only this vicarious trauma, the secondary trauma, the PTSD from these incidents over and over, like you describe, Steven, I've heard of this so frequently, especially with accidents and things of that sort. So but officer morale across the board right now with everything that has happened in the recent year, the recent six months, recent two years.


[00:26:59.370] - Michele Bratina

Recent with these incidents and the video recordings and the release of the cell phone videos and the anger and everything, the police, the morale is it's so unfortunate. There's just so much happening. And so and we need to support we need to support police. Obviously, we need to support the citizens in the community for sure. But also need to keep in mind we need to support our police. No question about mental wellness for sure.


[00:27:24.000] - Steve Morreale

One of the things that troubles me is the broad brush that people who are watching some of these incidents are tagging every police officer, everybody with a badge that they are the same. And that's a shame. And that carries a burden with police for sure.


[00:27:36.990] - Steve Morreale

And we see suicide running rampant and in corrections.


[00:27:41.940] - Steve Morreale

And so that's something to talk about. So let's move on to something else a little brighter. And that is what's on your bucket list. That's what I asked. What's on your bucket list?


[00:27:50.250] - Michele Bratina

Oh, my goodness. In terms of my career, my my job, or you've got you've got no career.


[00:27:56.310] - Michele Bratina

I'm talking about life, what would you like to do? What would you like to like? I want to go back to Italy. I want to and I think from. Right now, bucket list involves more travel than anything else, and that's probably because we all have been restricted that way. So right now, my immediate bucket list is travel just to travel. Life is short. This pandemic has made me open my eyes to a lot of things in my own family.


[00:28:26.630] - Michele Bratina

You know how important it is to be there for each other and to just get through. I would love to be able to do something with my family that involves travel, including my child and but also extended family, just life. It's fleeting. And if it is, I want to just go see the world. I want to see as much as I can.


[00:28:44.210] - Steve Morreale

It's interesting because my wife and I are talking and she wants very much to bring the kids. My kids are older, but back to Italy, we were just in Italy in 2019 and we do want to go back. You're busy writing and you're busy preparing your busy consulting. But once in a while you have to take a little bit of a break. What do you read, what do you look to read that has nothing to do with work but just to escape from nothing to do with work but to escape?


[00:29:08.240] - Michele Bratina

I'd say fashion magazines. And you know what? I have to tell you the forensic mental health book, as much as it's my heart, I'm working on another revision, another set of revisions to the C.J. book that I coauthored with Jim Fagan. So now right now, I'm not reading anything except related to work, so I can't even imagine. I'd say I read articles more, Stephen. Not scholarly articles, if you're asking me. Not from work articles on self-preservation, just kind of positive thinking, how you can move forward and be a positive person, because a lot of the time I'm exposed to and dealing with some pretty sad issues with my with my research area, with my courses.


[00:29:53.270] - Michele Bratina

I have a lot of self-disclosures from folks throughout the semester, a lot of tension and a lot of sadness. And sometimes I just need to escape from that. So I'll read something uplifting, Cosmopolitan or some article about travel. That's what I do. And I'm playing guitar now. So I'm trying I'm trying to do other things. Great.


[00:30:16.430] - Steve Morreale

So there's a hobby for you, the beginning of a hobby. That's just good to hear. The beginning. Very much the beginning. What do you where do you get your news?



This is embarrassing, but I go to the BBC a lot and I go to Google News and I sort through it because I'm I'm very careful of what I'm reading.


[00:30:34.880] - Steve Morreale

You listen to podcasts?


[00:30:37.220] - Michele Bratina

I am now listening to podcasts. Yes, I do. Periodically. If it's definitely I do a lot of NPR. I listen to that for class to prepare because they talk quite frequently about the subject area. And yes, I've been listening to yours and I've been listening to another one that a friend forwarded to me. So I've been starting to do more of that. Yes.


[00:30:56.280] - Steve Morreale

OK, if you had a chance to sit down for a conversation with anyone who's famous alive or passed. Who would it be?



Ceasar Becharea



Tell us why.



Because when I first started college after peeling potatoes on the back dock and Sommers point in New Jersey thinking that was going to be it and marriage and that's it for me, Becharia inspired me. I love I love the language. I love the the talk, the speak about justice, fairness. It inspired me and I needed to be inspired.


[00:31:27.140] - Steve Morreale

So back to policing for a minute. And your view of policing, what are three things you think that police agencies should be focusing on to try to dig themselves out and reemerge with the trust of the community?


[00:31:40.340] - Michele Bratina

No. One, community integration somehow, some way. And I don't know how Steve, forgive me, but get themselves more immersed, I guess, into the communities in which they serve. That's one to training. Don't be resistant to training, especially in terms of diversity, including mental health and learning about citizens who have intellectual disabilities, talking about sexual assault, victims of sexual assault. That's female, male and non-binary. Learning more about all those things in training LGBTQ plus communities open-minded again to the citizens you serve.


[00:32:22.700] - Michele Bratina

So that's community integration training. And last, do something, make friends outside of policing, make connections. So obviously with the community, you're also doing that. But somehow have you how? You've asked me, Steve, what I do to kind of get away to identify something like that for police, for the mental health, for the wellness piece, because the media and everything that's happened as has got to be destroying a lot of folks and again, with the morale.


[00:32:52.980] - Michele Bratina

So I'd say pull themselves for a little bit in some way. And again, I've never, ever been a police officer. Obviously, I so I don't know what any of this would really look like, but those would be my three areas.


[00:33:04.040] - Steve Morreale

I think that's OK. That's very. Valuable, so we've been talking to Dr. Michelle Bratina.  Michelle is a professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania and focuses on forensic mental health. So it's been quite interesting to talk about what's going on in the field, what she's doing, some of the writing and some of the consulting that she's doing.


[00:33:24.190] - Steve Morreale

Hiy, everybody, a few things before you leave. First, thanks for listening. I'm so gratified to see the downloads rising in the last few months, not only from the U.S., but from across the globe.


[00:33:33.430] - Steve Morreale

It's surprising and humbling to find students, colleagues and practitioners listening. We have a growing number of listeners in Canada, Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Colombia. We appreciate your time and energy and welcome feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me by email at CopDoc., that's Check out our website at CopDoc


[00:34:00.500] - Steve Morreale

Please take the time to share the podcast with your friend if you find value in the discussions. We've had so many amazing guests and more to come who have shared their wisdom, their thoughts, their viewpoints in their innovative ideas. Most importantly, a huge thank you to those of you who show up for work in policing every day, not knowing the kinds of calls that you'll be sent on or the kinds of situations you'll find yourself in, you risk your lives for people, many of whom you don't know.


[00:34:25.510] - Steve Morreale

And for that, we owe you a debt of gratitude. A big thanks. Hope you stay safe, healthy and look forward to hearing from you and hope you'll continue to listen to upcoming episodes of The CopDoc Podcast. Thanks very much.


[00:34:39.340] - Outro

Thanks for listening to The CopDoc Podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager turned academic and scholar from Worcester State University. Please tune into The CopDoc Podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.