Failure to Recognize Block-Out Syndrome, Faceless Killer in Public Service

Have you ever said to yourself, “What were they thinking?” just after someone in your department does something stupid or just blatantly wrong?

The truth is they were not thinking clearly. They were likely in Block-Out.


ticking time Bomb police RITE

Block-Out Syndrome for public safety personnel is when you are suddenly not thinking clearly, during a high stressful situation, and you make really bad decisions. This becomes a ticking time-bomb for other issues.

Poor decisions can result in the following:

  1. Loss of life or serious injury
  2. Lashing out at a co-worker or community member
  3. Display of unprofessional behavior
  4. Make stupid mistakes
  5. Go against department regulations and policies
  6. Push family members away, turn to addictions


Block-Out Syndrome is a faceless killer because it can happen to anyone at any time. You just snap…. and you don’t realize you are in block-out until someone taps you out or intervenes. ~Randy Friedman.


Block out even happens in sports like on the baseball field…



For public safety employees block-out can happen during a very stressful event or simply by being mentally overloaded. This mental overload can build over time like a pressure-cooker. When the pressure becomes too great, it blows causing harm to many in the agency. Executives are then thrown into a whirlwind of questions as to what happened.


This is a recipe for disaster and can be career-ending for the public safety employee. ~ Linda Webb


What Causes Block Out Syndrome to Build:

  1. Career Cumulative Trauma & PTSD – Being Exposed to years of Trauma

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’m not okay” or “I am not as fine as I tell people,” or “This job is killing me” then you might be reaching the tipping point of Cumulative Career Trauma.



  1. Dysfunctional Work Environment, like being exposed to toxic co-workers or bullies

The Workplace Bully can take you from being HAPPY to ANGRY within seconds. Toxic employees know exactly how to push your buttons. They are always voicing their own negative opinions, talking about how bad it is at work and how it is, “NEVER their fault.”



  1. Entitlement Complex – Self-Serving and Personal Destructive Behavior

Making the right decision, especially in an escalated use-of-force situation, is not always easy. Officers who control their emotions under pressure, are more likely to de-escalate than those who lose control.

When jumping from call-to-call, getting your emotions in-check between calls and throughout the day is key to community engagement. One thing that helps do that is what we teach in our training, called ‘The Daily Check-In.’



When someone is in ‘Block-Out’ their natural internal senses are not functioning clearly.

Things you’ll notice:

  1. Your hearing becomes muted, can’t hear what people are saying
  2. Unaware of how much time has lapsed.
  3. Your judgement gets clouded, and becomes self-serving (i.e. Fit of Rage)
  4. Put yourself and others in danger.
  5. Lack of empathy communication
  6. Your implicit bias, hot buttons could be engaged (Racial Equity)
  7. Miss critical information at the scene.
  8. Not making logical decisions – do opposite of what you have been trained to do.


No matter what the cause may be, if you witness your co-worker suddenly doing something terribly wrong, they may be experiencing Block Out Syndrome. You must take immediate action with ‘Duty to Intervene’


Duty to InterveneRITE duty to intervene rite

  1. Step In
  2. Tap Out
  3. Take Over



Awareness of Block-out Syndrome is a start in the RITE Direction for your agency and the RITE Response for prevention. At RITE Academy, we teach agencies how to recognize the on-set of Block Out Syndrome, and then step in with ‘Duty to Intervene’, helping that co-worker. This immediate action may save your life, co-worker, agency, and the community from a terrible misfortunate event.


Be sure to share this information with your agency members. It just may save a life.


RITE Training helps ALL public service agencies improve communication to avoid the Block-out Syndrome, to De-escalate situations, build Career resiliency, Leadership skills, and Departmental recruiting. Contact us about how to bring RITE TRAINING to your agency.

Our class is the only Nationally Certified Diversity Class approved by IADLEST. (Police Training Credentials)

RITE’s Racial Intelligence Culture and Training Includes:

  • Implicit Bias learning ‘What’s Your Hot Button?’
  • Accountability – Stringent SOP and Guidelines
  • Recognizing Stages of Block Out Syndrome
  • Emergency Response to Step In, Tap Out, Take Over
  • Emotional and Social intelligence (Bias Training)
  • Unprofessional Behavior – Profanity, Rumors, Gossip
  • Empathy Communication: Learn to connect
  • Behavioral Self Control and Creating Space of Mind
  • De-escalation Communication
  • 7-types of Workplace Harassment
  • The Entitlement Complex & Mental Looping
  • Improper Social Media Posting

Here are some links on us

Link to RITE YouTube videos    TV coverage, Press releases  – What others say about RITE  – Free articles and info to share


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