OIS support from agencies is lacking E-mail
Written by James Lewis   

High risk incidents are scary things. After one officer-involved shooting at a local agency, the officer involved told me one of their top administrators made a statement that made him concerned. Once the investigation was over and the books closed, showing my friend was justified, the administrator stated something along the lines of “Well, now that it’s over, let’s hope it never happens again.” My friend solemnly informed the admin that even though he understood the sentiment of his statement, the chances are high that something like this would happen again.

He went on to say that instead of hoping that it wouldn’t, they should better prepare for when it does. Law enforcement officers, contrary to popular belief, do not go to work each day looking forward to pursuits, fights and officer-involved shootings. Sure we train for them, but that does not imply we welcome them. Most officers would rather avoid them.

But they do happen. A lot.

Most officers involved in a shooting, or something similar, begin to worry about all that comes next. Crime scene, statements, investigations, second-guessing, armchair quarterbacks, the suspension/admin leave with or without pay, and, of course, possible litigation.

It’s scary stuff, and none of us look forward to this. In contrast to how the incident above was handled, after an OIS at my own agency some years ago, the first question asked by the top administrator who arrived on scene was, “Are you okay?” as opposed to “What happened?” This boss made it clear that he cared about his employee.

I know if I had been in that situation, having a commanding officer worrying about me and my welfare would have been an enormous comfort.

In the end, administrators are responsible for their subordinates and their actions. It only makes sense to have policies and procedures whose goal it is to find the facts and true story of what happened as well as show concern for and involve the officer as well. Police officers need support after a high risk incident/shooting.

They should not be sent home, reassigned or told, “we’ll get back to you.”

James Lewis is a lieutenant with the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana and is a moderator on the APBWEB Forums at www.apbweb.com/forums.

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