Fallout lasts long past police shooting incidents
The untold story is that the trauma often unmoors officers in dramatic and life-changing ways
The Edmond Sun
MINNEAPOLIS — In a matter of months last year, St. Paul police officers shot and killed three civilians, an unprecedented occurrence for the city, while seven other people were fatally shot by other Minnesota law enforcement officials by year’s end.
Officer-involved shootings, called “critical incidents” in law enforcement lingo, can draw intense media and public scrutiny, but the untold story is that the trauma often unmoors officers in dramatic and life-changing ways, driving some to alcoholism, divorce, early retirement and even suicide. A culture of silence and toughness means many suffer quietly for decades, while some manage through years of therapy.
The number of incidents in St. Paul led to a 35 percent increase in use of the department’s Employee Assistance Program services because they dredged up “emotional residue” from previous experiences, said St. Paul Sgt. Constance Bennett, EAP director.
“You can feel it,” Bennett said of the collective impact. “It’s a weight. When you have critical incidents like that, especially back-to-back, a department…gets taxed emotionally, physically.”