Agencies Upgrade Screening For Officers Returning From War


A 911 call to Austin, Tx., police, said two men were fighting, and one flashed a knife. Police officer Wayne Williamson, who had returned the year before from military duty in Iraq, fired three shots, says the Dallas Morning News. No one was hurt, but the incident cost Officer Williamson his job. He and his attorney said his time in the war zone may have clouded his judgment. A few reservists and guardsmen have come back to police work in Texas and other states only to use tactics more suited to a combat zone than a city patrol beat.

Some law enforcement agencies have begun to look harder at how they help soldiers make the transition back to police work. The International Association of Chiefs of Police is developing a national strategy to address the concern. In Dallas, when officers come back from extended leave, they are screened for mental health issues. Returning officers are put through the same battery of psychological tests they took when hired. Psychologists have particular questions for those returning from war. Where did you serve? How long? What did you see? Did you lose any friends? The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department has added a fourth day to its repatriation program for soldiers. “The rules of engagement for the military are different than the rules of engagement for law enforcement,” said Audrey Honig, the department’s chief psychologist. “The military, they work more under the basic assumption of ‘when in doubt, shoot.’ And we work under the basic assumption of ‘when in doubt, don’t shoot.’ ”


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