07/25/2012

Barbara A. SchwartzLiving with the Sacrifice
with Barbara A. Schwartz

Colo. massacre: Supporting the officers of Aurora PD

Officers in Aurora, Colorado are living with the sacrifice of answering an active shooter call with multiple injuries. As the shock wears off, the reality of what happened will set in. Most officers will do fine. Others will need support.

According to the research and science in post-traumatic growth, social and peer support can be the most important aspect in a person’s healing. The law enforcement community needs to rally around the officers who answered the call at that theater and those who put their life on the line to diffuse a booby-trapped apartment. These officers need our support, our compassion, and a nonjudgmental environment in which to heal.

Let’s give that to them.

After Columbine, I interviewed the Jefferson County, Colorado SWAT commander. He emphasized that the media bashing officers received after the incident affected their ability to heal and productively process the trauma of the shootings. The last thing officers need in the aftermath of such an incident is second-guessing by talking heads, the “experts” the news media employs, and fellow officers.

Let’s stand behind Aurora’s first responders. We know they did their best under trying and dangerous circumstances.

I advise the officers and deputies who responded to the  shooting to put words to their horror. Talk to someone you trust. Write your feelings down to release and process the emotions and anger. Remember to get adequate rest, exercise, and nutrition. Refrain from hitting the booze.

Aurora PD provides psychologists to assist their officers. I urge officers to take advantage of those resources.

I applaud Chief Oates for his “emotional leadership” and his public showing of compassion and support for his officers. Chief Oates’ exceptional handling of the press has portrayed his agency, and all of law enforcement, positively to the world. 

PoliceOne wants all officers to know that we are here for them. Please don’t suffer alone. If you need someone to talk to, someone to listen, just send an email. barbara.schwartz@policeone.com.

We will listen and connect you with people who care, who have served in the trenches as you have, and understand the ordeal you were called to on Friday.

The right response to the officers in Aurora is: Whatever you need, just ask. Your brothers and sisters in blue have your back.

We understand the sacrifice you are now living. 

About the author

Barbara A. Schwartz retired after 30 years with NASA in Houston where she worked in Mission Control and Astronaut Training. She is a former reserve officer serving in patrol and investigations. She has been writing about law enforcement officers since 1972 and has been a contributing feature writer for American Police Beat for the past 10 years. Her articles and book reviews have also appeared in Command, The Tactical Edge, Crisis Negotiator Journal, The Badge & Gun, The Harris County Star, The Blues, and The Police News.

Schwartz earned a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University with electives in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She helped fund her education by working for the campus police department.

Contact Barbara A. Schwartz

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