The shooting last week of Indianapolis patrol officer Jason Fishburn, 29, comes at a difficult time for the Metropolitan Police Department and its 1,600 officers, says the Indianapolis Star. A half-dozen officers have been arrested in recent months on corruption-related charges, leading prosecutors to dismiss 20 cases so far. Then came an onslaught of violent crime — 11 homicides, many of which remain unsolved, in a 10-day period over the past two weeks.
Morale is being tested, and almost certainly, experts say, officers are experiencing emotional whiplash. “There is a tremendous identification factor,” said Laurence Miller, a police psychologist who teaches stress management and crisis intervention courses to officers at the Criminal Justice Institute of Palm Beach in Florida. “Police shootings are rare, but it does remind every officer in that police department and everywhere else that this is a dangerous job.” Miller said an officer’s serious injury or death provokes strong reactions ranging from increased camaraderie to nightmares, even in those who didn’t know the victim. Nearly four years have passed in Indianapolis’s Marion County since a fatal shooting of a police officer. Nationally, law enforcement fatalities are at the lowest level since 1965 after a surge last year. Fifty-nine were killed in the first half of 2008, said the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Concerns of Police Survivors.