In the wake of the Dallas shootings early this morning, many people are feeling sad, confused, angry, and scared. That’s normal, given that within the past few days we’ve seen horrible violence between police officers and civilians, and there’s no easy way to reconcile the tumultuous feelings these incidents create. Impacted to a huge degree today and yesterday are police, who may not have been part of the incidents themselves but are aware that they are lumped into one entity by many in the public sphere. Feelings of anxiety, grief, depression, and stress are common among law enforcement officers after high profile incidents like these, with good reason.
After traumatic incidents, police often suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. In the next few days, all of the 3500 Dallas police force will be back to work, some working through the incident last night as well. In the line of duty, they must carry on. Their role isn’t easy- they can’t let grief cloud their judgement or distract from their line of work. Many of them will want to push the incident away, or will stay guarded against others who might try to help. There’s a particularly strong sentiment in law enforcement that those who haven’t worked in the line of duty can’t understand what they’re going through. At our counseling center, we’re lucky that w
e do have staff that specialize in police psychology and police anxiety disorders & grief after traumatic incidents.
“Cops are going to be on guard throughout the nation,” said Bruce Mills, a former assistant Austin police chief whose partner, Ralph Ablanedo, was killed in 1978. “Unfortunately, I think there may be a tendency for overresponse, overreaction, and nobody wants that in our society.”
Laurence Miller, a police psychology expert in Boca Raton, Fla., said it is not unusual for officers to experience a “bunker mentality” after such incidents in which they might feel more defensive, particularly around populations they might think are more dangerous toward them.
Experts said it will be important for the department’s brass to model “mature grieving,” in which they talk about emotions, rather than turn to substances like alcohol or drugs. Properly processing what happened will help officers at work and at home, they said.
Unresolved trauma and grief can affect an officer’s life at home, according to Miller.
He said it isn’t unusual for departments to experience a rise in domestic violence cases, for instance, involving officers who might not have processed their trauma and grief.
Angie McCown, director of the victims services division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, who has worked closely with law enforcement for 30 years, said the shootings could cause some officers to question their choice of profession.
Excerpt from mystatesman.com
Law enforcement and public servants in Michigan need to know that there’s help. Seeking counseling is a proactive, smart approach to find an outlet to grieve, talk through the anxiety and stress that the job puts you through, and ultimately learn how to move forward successfully. Contact us today to see one of our counselors right away.