Law enforcement has always been an adrenaline-driven field, it is the nature of the job. Some of the incidents police officers find themselves are a little bit more critical than the usual, like officer-involved shootings (OIS). These events can impact a person’s well-being if not dealt with and processed properly.
This webinar’s instructor, Alana Negroni, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has been with The Counseling Team (TCT) for more than a decade already. Her work involves testing, training, and counseling to government agency employees – including law enforcement and emergency responders.
On this course, Alana talks about how critical events can negatively affect responders, going through symptoms, the different levels of the impact, and strategies to cope with the symptoms. Some of the points Alana discuss include:
- The different personalities impacted by officer-involved shootings, from the police officers who responded to the event, to the dispatchers who received the call, and the families of the law enforcement employees involved.
- The common reactions that individuals may experience including:
- Perceptual distortions that warp an individual’s senses and may even make time go faster or slower.
- Immediate symptoms experienced as the event takes place as muscles tremors, nausea, hyperventilation, and sweating that are results of a person’s body and brain recognizing the life-threatening situation, therefore, reprioritizing biological processes.
- Subsequent symptoms that happen moments after the incident as the brain starts to process what just transpired which may be characterized by fear, denial, anger, and emotional numbing, among others.
- Delayed symptoms that reveal days or weeks after the incident that distorted the individual’s window of tolerance such as grief, flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and apathy.
- Chronic symptoms that manifest for months or years as a result of the inability to properly process the critical incident including hostility, irritability, poor concentration, and unhealthy habits.
- Insights on why officers respond to critical events differently that look at the lack of control over the situation, expectations on critical events and its comparison to reality, details surrounding the incident and the actors, and other ramifications.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic injury and an effective method to overcome the trauma through Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
- Ways that critical incidents can impact the families of those working in law enforcement.
- Guidelines for offering support to those impacted by critical events that highlight:
- The need to understand the difference between individuals’ reactions and response.
- The importance of initiating contact without being overbearing.
- Allowing the person to process in whatever way and length of time that they want to.
- Extending empathy by listening, avoiding judgment, giving unconditional support, and ensuring that it is about them.
- The significance of having the helping triad available as resources.
- During the Q&A, the webinar attendees raised their concerns about:
- The probability of having sexual dysfunction as a subsequent symptom.
- Details about EMDR, its providers and application.
- Dealing with officers who were in near-miss situations.
- “The webinar was amazing and it had a plethora of information regarding officers that were affected by a shooting and were not necessarily the shooter. I can attest to the fact that ” It is not the event that injures us, it is the memory of it that does”…. Thank you so much.” — David
- “I appreciated the statement “It’s not the event that necessarily injures us, it’s the memory of that event.” and the response to second guessers “you did the best you could with what you had in that moment.”. Great content. Thank you.” — Tammy
- “I found it to be very informative. Just recognizing the different types of stress that the involved officer may experience following an OIS incident was very informative. Thanks.” — Lourdes
- “I have been a law enforcement peer support member for the State of Louisiana for [a long time]. I thought the instructor was very knowledgeable. I was using this course as continuous training and was very pleased. I hope to be apart of future webinars.” — Rich
The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is one of the largest associations of law enforcement professionals in the United States, representing more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the nation, and a total membership of more than 20,000. NSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of criminal justice and public safety. Throughout its seventy-seven year history, NSA has served as an information clearinghouse for sheriffs, deputies, chiefs of police, other law enforcement professionals, state governments and the federal government.