Impact of Officer Involved Shootings

The proprietor of a private practice in San Bernardino, California, Dr. Nancy Bohl-Penrod has treated patients as a psychotherapist for 30 years. Focused on assisting first-responders such as law enforcement officers, Dr. Nancy Bohl-Penrod has studied the emotional impact of officer-involved shootings.

Police officers may be placed in dangerous positions that require them to use firearms or other types of deadly force. To prepare for such an occurrence, law enforcement agencies should develop policies that can emotionally support the officer. This involves establishing pre-incident preparation plans, at-the-scene/immediately-following plans, and long-term plans.

Before a shooting incident, departments should learn about the psychological and emotional ramifications to officers who are engaged in a traumatic incident. This may require hiring a psychological professional trained in treating individuals following a trauma and who can educate agency personnel on relevant methodologies. At the scene, these practitioners should focus on alleviating the emotional and physical stress faced by the officers by taking them away from the location and avoiding media and other unwanted attention. During the investigation process, psychological professionals can provide assistance, teach the officers healthy coping mechanisms, and decide whether any are ready to return to duty.

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