An event like the shooting death of Austin police officer Jaime Padron on Friday “will become part of the organizational narrative that will be communicated to young cops there forever,” Vincent Henry, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on how police respond to death on the job, tells the Austin American-Statesman. “This guy is now part of the history of the agency. He’ll be used to teach and train cops for generations.”
Police experts, psychologists specializing in working with law enforcement, and former officers said research and experience show that Austin police can expect to behave in predictable ways in the coming weeks and months as they process the violent death of one of their own. The reactions will range from heightened vigilance on calls that resemble Padron’s final response at a Wal-Mart, to occasional anger, to what those who have studied the phenomenon describe as an almost obsessive quest to learn even the most insignificant details of the event in an effort not only to learn what happened, but also to convince themselves that it could not happen to them. “Cops are masters of second-guessing, third-guessing — 297th-guessing,” said Daniel Clark, a department psychologist with the Washington State Patrol for the past 18 years.