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Police Shooting Findings


Submitted By mwathijoe
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Police Responses to Officer-Involved Shootings

Introduction Both mental health counselors and police professionals have investigated and detailed the ecstatic impact of officer-involved shooting incidents. Post-shooting trauma has resulted in many departments seeking professional support for officers involved in shootings. Research shows the percentage of officers who experienced exceedingly high, moderate, or no responsive impact after involvement in a shooting. Evaluation of Personal Impact of the Study from a Police Officer’s Perspective This research has an immense personal impact on officers. The physical, psychological and emotional reactions of police officers after a shooting incident vary. If the findings of this research were to be implemented, it would have a positive, personal effect on the police officers involved in shootings (Klinger, 2006). The findings showed that most officers experience physiological, psychological, and emotional reactions just before and as they fired a gun. Their recollections of the event were found to be vague, or in extreme cases, they could not remember the incident at all. Also, exceedingly few officers experienced long-lasting negative effects after a shooting. Their post-shooting reactions were influenced by actions and attitudes of family, friends, colleagues, and investigators. These reactions lessened as activity and attention about the incident diminished (Klinger, 2006). Many police officers lie to counselors about the occurrences of a shooting event. This is mainly because they feel the counselors are attached to the department. This is in contrast with officers willing to share their experiences with fellow colleagues involved in shootings. This implies that peer counseling has a more positive impact to these officers than mandatory, critical incident counseling. This suggests peer counseling has a significant personal impact on individual police officers (Klinger, 2006). The study found that not all police officers experienced negative emotions. In about one-third of the shootings, police officers reported emotions of elation that include residual excitement after a deadly, life-threatening experience, joy of being alive, and satisfaction in proving their ability to use weapons appropriately. This implies that shooting incidences have a positive impact on some police officers. The personal impact of this is that it may lift the spirits of officers, rather than dampen their spirit. Evaluation of Professional Impact of the Study and Implications for Professionals in this Area This study has an enormous professional impact. This study touches several aspects of professionals including investigators, counselors, police officers and their superiors. The study mainly targets administrators and law enforcement supervisors. It helps people understand how to tackle post-trauma circumstances. The study also has an impact on mental health clinicians who consider or are involved in law enforcement consultation. Many police officers are reluctant to talk openly to outsiders on issues of shootings. Police officers are more willing to talk to their own peers than counselors in debriefings. This presents unique challenges to counselors or clinicians attempting to identify and aid officers in distress. This study proposes peer counseling as an effective way of helping officers overcome post-shooting trauma (Klinger, 2006). The study also suggests that psychological service should be provided by outsider psychologists or counselors who are less involved in police departmental processes or politics. Many officers are interested in willingness of a therapist to understand the officer’s situation. Basic trust is also necessary, and this can be found in their peers. The study suggests therapy sessions may be more effective when counselors not tied to the department conduct the sessions than when held by departmental counselors. Officers who have support from fellow officers and their supervisors are less affected by negative post-shooting trauma, than those who feel they do not have their support. Taking department-mandated time off and dialogue with officers previously involved in shootings also reduces negative reactions. This implies that colleagues play an integral, professional role in helping police officers involved in shootings avoid long-lasting and severe negative reactions. Police officers’ training should also incorporate studies on how to deal with post-shooting trauma (Klinger, 2006). All aspects of investigations into shootings should also be fair and professional. Many officers who viewed that some aspects of an investigation were unprofessional or unfair experienced long-lasting and severe negative reactions after the shooting. Investigators may reconcile conflicting evidence through thorough and extensive investigations, in order to ensure fair investigations and less post-shooting trauma in involved officers (Klinger, 2006). Conclusion The sheer shock and magnitude of many officer-involved shootings may overwhelm the coping abilities and defense mechanisms of even the most experienced officers. Cumulative effects of post-shooting trauma may result in reduced work quality, and deterioration of workplace and home relationships. This study on police responses to officer-involved shooting provides a platform to counter these negative reactions.

References Klinger, D. (2006). Police Responses to Officer-Involved Shootings. National Institute of Justice Journal, NCJ 212261(253), 21-23.

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