Psychological Support: Helping Police Officers Recover from Traumatic Experiences
Mario Gutierrez was viciously attacked in the line of duty. Gutierrez shot and killed the felon after he was stabbed. In the hospital the wounded cop asked for the Police Department's psychologist.
Gutierrez, an officer from the Miami-Dade Police department was parked at a gas station when he saw a man pulling a gas hose. The cop acted instinctively and used his taser on the man identified later as Dominique Jean.
Jean assaulted and stabbed the police officer which led Gutierrez to draw and fire his gun. Gutierrez later said he feared not being able to see his family again and it made him angry..
Dr. Scott Allen responded to the call. A police psychologist in the Miami-Dade Police Department since the 1980s, Dr. Allen and the rest of the department's psychological services team are on call 24/7. They respond to scenes where officers face major traumatic events like involvement in gunfire exchanges and getting injured.
Dr. Allen defines a traumatic event being any event is any event that is outside the typical scope of normal human actions. The police department hired him to help lower the incidence of suicide in the force which was high 30 years ago. NBC reported there were 108 police suicides across the US in 2016.
Officer Gutierrez emphasized it's very important for a person to have someone to talk to so that he'll be guided to healing and go back to the normal routines.
"He was in a very dark place."
Last week, Andrew Summerscales, a former cop made his own death report using official paperwork before committing suicide.
Like Gutierrez, Summerscales had a traumatic experience while on the job.
The Guardian reported that Summerscales was one of the first one to respond to a tragedy on September 18, 2012. The victims were his fellow officers and good friends Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone.
The officer's son, Joshua and his former girlfriend, Carly Weston both agreed that the event gravely affected Summerscales. The police officer struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Weston said Summerscales was in a very dark place. She tried to persuade Summerscales to get help but he refused to.
Summerscales went on a 12-month sick leave after the incident. He went back to work disillusioned and unhappy with the job. The police officer also expressed intentions to take his own life in more than one occasion.