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by Peter Moskos

February 17, 2012

PTSD in the BPD

An article by Peter Hermann in the Sun on an important but little talked about subject, the effect on police of police-involved shootings:
Union leaders say city police do a good job of providing counseling to officers in the immediate aftermath of a shooting, but fall short in recognizing long-term psychological effects. Psychiatrists and police officials interviewed all caution that each shooting is different, as is the reaction of each officer.

One active-duty officer, Andrew W. Gotwols Jr., said he was never offered help after he shot and killed two people nine months apart in 2006 and 2007. He still has nightmares that "guys are trying to shoot and kill me, and that I'm trying to shoot and kill them."

And a retired police commander who was one of the officers involved in the 2005 shooting with Willard said he suffers no ill effects from the incident, but added that after a time, "you start thinking, 'There's another close call, hopefully I can make it through my career without running out of luck.'"
My own experience in the aftermath of a horrible cop-on-cop car crash (in which a friend of mine was nearly killed) was that a shrink was made available to me and others on scene. I didn't feel the need to use the services. That was that. (My friend was lucky to live, and never policed again.)

I will vouch for the fact that as a cop, work/anxiety dreams are never fun. Now, as a professor, I just have the occasional dream of not being able to get to class on time. It's laughable compared to the dreams I would sometimes have as a cop, always involving guns and danger. (Of course everything about my job can sometimes be laughable compared to what I had to as a Baltimore cop. Anyway... work-related dreams are something I do not miss about policing--just one of the reasons teaching is better.)

1 comment:

EOJPG said...

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