Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cops back from the war

10-8: Life on the Line
with Charles Remsberg

Exclusive: Cops back from the war: What problems do they pose?

By Chuck Remsberg, Senior PoliceOne Contributor

Part 1 of a 3-part series

Thousands of American law enforcement officers have been called to military service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and authorities are increasingly focusing attention on how well some of those can reintegrate into domestic policing once they return home.

Isolated instances of serious problems have made headlines, raising concerns about potentially persistent negative effects of combat experience.

• In Texas, an officer recently back from reservist deployment to Iraq, opened fire on a suspect who was running through a crowded shopping center. The rounds narrowly missed the officer’s partner and one lodged in a van occupied by two children. “Everyone believes he should not have fired,” the officer’s attorney told USA Today. “His assessment of the threat level was wrong. He was assessing as if he was back in the military, not [as] a police officer.”

• In Georgia, an officer who’d served in Iraq with the National Guard was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. He was part of a misdirected drug raid in which an elderly woman was killed. His lawyer says he was undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition afflicting a significant percentage of returning vets.

• In Nevada, a trooper who’d been in Iraq as an Army Guardsman, pleaded guilty to felony reckless driving and was sentenced to 2 to 12 years. According to the New York Times, he was driving 118 mph when he slammed into another car, killing four people and critically injuring another.

No one claims that all—or even a majority—of post-deployment veterans are menaces to society once they pin a badge back on and resume patrol duties. But by the same token, says Dr. Stephen Curran, a Maryland psychologist who counsels officers, “You can’t just put people back in [law enforcement] jobs, give them their guns and expect that things are going to be fine. Getting back into the flow of things is a challenge.”

Most manage the transition successfully. For others, the struggle can be more problematic.

To explore the issues involved in LEOs returning from combat zones, Dr. Beverly Anderson, clinical director and administrator of the Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Police Employee Assistance Program, convened a unique, invitation-only symposium at the department’s training academy. More than 200 police and mental health professionals representing 73 federal, state, county and city agencies in seven states attended to hear a panel of experts explain the harsh realities of returning to life stateside. PoliceOne was the only communications agency invited.

Drawing on the panel’s presentations, Part 1 of this exclusive series examines the roots of post-deployment adjustment problems. Part 2 will explore the challenges these present to officers, their families and their departments when they come home. In part 3, we’ll look at measures knowledgeable observers believe are necessary to assure a successful transition back to the streets.
click post title for the rest

After 4 days of training to become a Chaplain, one of the biggest things that was made quite clear is the fact police officers are just like the rest of the humans on the planet. They get angry, scared, sad and have the same emotions we all do. What we think sets them apart is that they take most of it and "stuff it inside their brains" instead of dealing with it. They do that because they think they are supposed to always be in control or situations, their actions and their emotions. To be honest, most of us think they are supposed to be a cut above the rest of us. In many ways, they are but they are still human. These men and women are trained to take someone down and many times that will end up killing someone in the line of duty.

Soldiers are not trained to stop someone or take them down. They are trained to kill. What they are not trained to do is to cope with what comes after they do. They are not trained to deal with the carnage, women killed or kids killed. They are not trained to see their friends killed either. You cannot train them for that but what you can do is help them cope with it after.

There is more we'll get into as the weeks go on and I attempt to share what I've learned this week. The test is tomorrow and I pray that I've learned enough to pass. I'm not very good with testing. Check back tomorrow night and I'll let you know if I passed the test. If I do, on Saturday there is a big post in the works to share more of what I've been made more aware of. Working with PTSD veterans all these years gave me some insight to what regular people go through but nothing came close to what I've learned this week.

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