Time to Rest After Two Crisis-Fueled Careers
One in an ongoing series.
As a Philadelphia police officer for 25 years, Tom Read often saw the tragic side of life, which ranged from dealing with criminal activity to people suffering with addiction and mental illness. And during most of those same years, he worked in the mental health field to steer those people towards recovery.
Now, it’s time to go fishing. Literally.
Read is retiring after 32 years working at Einstein Healthcare Network’s Crisis Response Center (CRC), which evaluates and treats people in addiction and psychiatric crisis, and provides them with resources and access to long-term placement.
For 16 of those years at the CRC, Read worked both jobs – as a cop and a mental health technician – for a total of 64 hours a week. And he worked an additional four years at another mental health center before Einstein opened the CRC in 1988.
Why work so many hours a week? Why pursue jobs so imbued with the darkness of life?
Practical and Purposeful
One reason is practical: Read had three children to put through college.
“My wife was a stay-at-home mother,” he says. “She didn’t work until they were older. We got the kids through private Christian school and through college. They’re all adults now.”
And then, too, he found purpose in serving his community. “My father was a firefighter,” he says, which inspired him. “I wanted to continue that public service as a police officer.”
As a patrolman, Read worked in a district in West Philadelphia, and later in North Philadelphia. Read spent the last eight years in the police department as a supervisor in the Special Victims Unit dealing with victims of child abuse and sexual assault.
It’s enough to make anyone a cynic, or certainly undermine their faith in God. But not Read. He and his family are devout Christians, and he expresses gratitude to God for his life.
“I believe the Lord makes your path and you follow it. I believe God had me serve a purpose, got me through two careers serving the community.”
Stressful, but Never Boring
Police work was gritty, adrenalin-fueled, and anything but routine – and that’s what he preferred.
“Working as a police officer can be difficult and stressful,” Read says. “I liked the stress. I liked the crisis. You never got bored, you never knew what to expect and that’s what I liked about it.”
Working in a crisis treatment center is similarly stressful and unpredictable, and another kind of public service.
“I did intake work, authorized insurance, found hospital beds for inpatient treatment, arranged transportation and sent the patients on their way,” he says. “You’re also taking care of patients at the same time – doing vital signs, feeding them,” and helping aggressive patients calm down.
“As a police officer on the street, I saw the outcome of what a suicide looks like – more than a few times,” he says. “It made me more committed to be in the mental health field.”
Now it’s time for a more tranquil life, living in Lancaster County with his wife, close to his daughter and her children, visiting far-flung family members. And yes, fishing.
After 32 years, it’s time for Read to immerse himself in what comes next.
“Now I just want to enjoy my time and see where God leads me through retirement.”