Police Association of Lafayette

The Aftermath of an Officer Involved Shooting | Part 4: Officer Reaction


The day following the shooting arrives and the officer awakes from what seemed like an endless evening prepared to get back to work, only to remember that he has been placed on leave indefinitely. The initial reaction of relief or exhilaration from surviving a near death encounter is fading fast and the on-set of other psychological reactions are taking effect.


The first type of reaction generally experienced by the officer is one of post-incident psychological distress. This usually subsides within a few weeks through coping skills, praying, reflecting, conversation with family, friends and co-workers. Typically, during this stage, the officers’ daily functioning is not impacted. However, a more intense reaction will typically follow.


A second or intermediate reaction consisting of post-traumatic symptoms take root and may persist for several weeks or months. Daily functioning is impacted as the officer typically encounters a cycle of “good days” and “bad days”. This up and down cycle may cause tension in the officer’s household and impact his relationship with his spouse, significant other and/or children.


In some cases, officers may experience a third type of reaction characterized by severe psychological disability or more commonly described by many as a “mental breakdown”. If timely and appropriate psychological intervention is not received the officer’s career in police work may become unsalvageable.


There is no “cookie cutter” road map that applies to every officer. Every individual is different and the impact a traumatic event may have upon individuals may be extremely divergent. Continuing criminal and administrative investigations tend to complicate the resolution process and the unknown initiation of civil litigation will remain for up to a year in most circumstances. However, what we do know is the officer’s condition is often exacerbated by adversarial investigations and perceived lack of support from colleagues, politicians, family and/or the community.


You can make a difference in the life of an officer. Even if skeptical you can choose to wait for facts and circumstances to come forward before voicing irresponsible words of criticism. You can be supportive and show your appreciation for the difficult service they perform. You can choose to be compassionate and understanding during this difficult time. You can choose to #BackTheBlue.


Show your support for the men and women in blue by donating to the Police Association of Lafayette, Local #905!


The Aftermath of an Officer Involved Shooting | Part 1: Public Criticism


The Aftermath of an Officer Involved Shooting | Part 2: Criminal Inquiry


The Aftermath of an Officer Involved Shooting | Part 3: Administrative Investigation


The Aftermath of an Officer Involved Shooting | Part 4: Officer Reaction