Some police officers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that law enforcement and mental health authorities fear could put their judgment and public safety at risk, reports USA Today. The International Association of Chiefs of Police is developing a national strategy to help returning officers, citing worries that prolonged exposure to combat could make it harder for police to follow strict regulations on the use of lethal force in civilian life. “This is about trying to save careers,” says the IACP’s Jim McMahon.
A survey of 103 psychologists who treat public safety officers found 16 percent were counseling those who had returned from combat zones, says Stephen Curran, a Maryland psychologist. “We had one officer freeze on the firing range,” Tucson police psychologist Mary-Wales North says. “He was unable to fire his weapon. He tried to come back too soon. Luckily, it happened on the (shooting) range and not back on the street.” This summer, the Los Angeles County Sheriff began requiring returning officers to spend a day at a department shooting range to test their judgment in lethal-force scenarios, Cmdr. Linda Castro says.