Family members of an officer involved in an on-duty death should seek support for themselves and their officer. If their agency offers family critical stress debriefing, participate if possible. Utilize counseling to help sort through how you are feeling about the event and about your officer. Take care of yourself. Talk to others. Lean on your support systems. Recognize signs that your officer is not processing the situation in a healthy manner and encourage him or her to seek support. Recognize that your officer does not have to die in the line of duty for the job to have a serious emotional impact. Having to take the life of another regardless of the situation comes with mental and emotional consequences. Often the event creates moral or spiritual conflicts. Help your officer be aware that although they train for the potential case they might have to kill someone, it is not expected that the event will be just another day in the life of a police officer. This is an unusual event with unusual consequences. Help each other.
During our time together, my husband never had to kill anyone while in a law enforcement capacity. I did not have to witness and deal with the emotional aftermath of this kind of event. By the time we were married, my husband had enough time between his killing and the present to have worked through some things in his own head. I didn’t have to be that partner who goes through the chaos alongside my LEO spouse. I didn’t have to watch the media vilify him. I was blissfully safe from seeing his agency put him on administrative leave and investigate him for doing his job. I didn’t suffer with him through the feelings of isolation. His stress while running the situation through his head over and over trying to figure out if somehow it could have been different had been long since processed. I was lucky although I still found myself stealing a glimpse of the man I loved every time the thought he had taken the life of another crossed my mind.
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About The Author:
Michelle Perin has been a freelance writer since 2000. Her credits include Law Enforcement Technology, Police, Law and Order, Police Times, Beyond the Badge, Michigan State Trooper, Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine and Chief of Police. She writes two columns a month for Officer.com. Michelle worked for the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department for almost eight years. In December 2010, she earned her Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Indiana State University. Currently, Michelle works as the Administrative Coordinator at Jasper Mountain a residential psychiatric facility for children. In her spare time, she enjoys being the fundraising coordinator for the Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue, playing her bass, working on her young adult novel Desert Ice and raising her two sons in a small town in Oregon.