Helping a fellow officer after SBC

If you’re a well-meaning colleague, family member, or friend, here are some things you can do to help your officer get through a OBM ordeal.

Be present. Many helpers become preoccupied with “doing something” for the distressed officer. But often, just letting him/her know you’re there and on his/her side — providing a quiet, comforting, supportive presence — is sometimes the best thing you can do for him/her.

Take your cue from the officer. Unless he/she is acting bizarrely, unsafely, or unhealthily, give the officer space if he/she wants it. Again, just knowing you’re there when he/she needs you will be a tremendous support. If the officer wants to talk, engage him/her in conversation, but let him/her do most of the talking. Of course, if you’re asked a question, answer it, but realize that this conversation is primarily for the officer’s benefit.

Offer advice a point. In a non-preachy or lecturing way, offer the officer whatever you think will help. If you’re a colleague who’s weathered a similar SBC or other OIS experience, give the officer the benefit of your insights. If you’re a friend or relative, suggest ways the officer can take his/her mind off the ongoing problems and engage in a healthy, distracting activity. If you think the officer is not dealing with the aftermath successfully, gently suggest he/she get some professional help.

About the author

Laurence Miller, Ph.D., is a clinical and forensic psychologist and law enforcement educator and trainer based in Boca Raton, Fla. Dr. Miller is the police psychologist for the West Palm Beach Police Department, mental health consultant for Troop L of the Florida Highway Patrol, a forensic psychological examiner for the Palm Beach County Court, and a consulting psychologist with several regional and national law enforcement agencies. Dr. Miller is an instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute of Palm Beach County and at Florida Atlantic University, and conducts continuing education and training seminars around the country. He is the author of numerous professional and popular print and online publications pertaining to the brain, behavior, health, law enforcement, criminal justice and organizational psychology. His latest books are "Practical Police Psychology: Stress Management and Crisis Intervention for Law Enforcement" (Charles C Thomas, 2006) and "Mental Toughness Training for Law Enforcement" (Looseleaf Law Publications, 2008).

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific clinical or legal advice. If you have a question about this column, please submit it to this website.

Contact Laurence Miller

  1. Tags
  2. Suicide by Cop
  3. Officer-Involved Shootings
  4. Patrol Issues

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