One in five police officers in the U.S. are veterans. Most return from military assignments and reintegrate with few problems, bringing skills and discipline that police forces regard as assets. The prevalence of military veterans also complicates relations between police and the communities they are meant to serve, reports USA Today and The Marshall Project. Anecdotal evidence suggests that veterans are more likely to get physical in use-of-force situations, and some police executives agree.
Any large-scale comparison of the use of force by veterans and non-veterans is hampered by a lack of reliable, official record-keeping on police violence. Some other conclusions of the reporting: Veterans who work as police are more vulnerable to self-destructive behavior such as alcohol abuse, drug use and attempted suicide. Hiring preferences for veterans that benefit whites make it harder to build police forces that reflect and understand diverse communities, some police leaders say. Most law enforcement agencies do little or no mental health screening for officers who return from military deployment, and agencies provide little treatment.