America’s Wonderful Police Officers

America’s Wonderful Police Officers.

I am a psychologist who has a sub-specialty working with police officers. I consider this a special honor and a way that I might also serve the communities and citizens that they daily risk their lives to protect.

I have conducted many post-shooting assessments of police officers in order to evaluate their readiness to return to full-duty. In some of these cases, their fellow officers have been killed or wounded. They are then left with great sadness for the spouses, children and other family members of their friends  killed or maimed in the line of duty.

In some cases, the officers that I have evaluated have themselves been beaten, shot, stabbed, or injured in car pursuit accidents.

Also, a few of my client officers have had to kill a perpetrator in self-defense, or the defense of innocent victims. This is a very difficult and unwanted experience for every officer I have worked.

I tell you all of this to support the fact that I am in a special position to express my personal great and abiding respect for these men and women who risk everything that they hold dear, in order to serve and protect all of us who normally lead much safer lives.

Police officers rush into terrifying life-threatening situations that would turn most everyone else into “fleeing cowards”. They do this because they have chosen to swear to dedicate their lives to protecting the innocent and to apprehending those break civilization’s laws.

For reasons of America’s rising social pathologies, our police officers increasingly rush to subdue lethal threats.  They must be ready to terminate a perpetrator’s deathly threat to the officer, fellow officers or citizens. Police officers are highly trained to follow legally mandated steps on force-continuum up to the final level, which is lethal force.

Officers deeply understand that most of what they do is routine, yet they must struggle to keep foremost in their minds that a routine event can unpredictably turn deadly in a second. They must be prepared for this worse-case scenario every time they stop a car, go to a domestic disturbance, or serve a court warrant on an individual. They commonly fear that someone they have had to arrest will take retribution on them when they are off duty and shopping or perhaps on a public outing with their families. It is not uncommon that they have to deal with direct threats against them and their families.

Police officers deeply understand that there is absolutely no room for error in a life or death decision that they may have to  make…within a split second. They must live with the thought of being killed doing their job. They abhor the thought of accidentally shooting an innocent bystander, or shooting a perpetrator who looks like they are trying to kill the officer..or someone else..but they misjudged the situation. Such mistaken perceptions are more likely at night, or other poorly lighted conditions.

Police officers are also fearful of an errant Grand Jury decision, even when it is obvious they behaved according to all of the rules of engagement. They are fearful that if they are found innocent of wrong doings in a criminal court, they may yet face a civil law suite in which significantly less evidence is needed to order ruinous financial reparations from them to the “victim” or their family.

I believe that the average citizen has no idea about the courage, intelligence, specialized training and learning, emotional maturity, and personal sacrifices that are required to even be a good, average, police officer.

Even more is required to be an outstanding police officer in America.

I feel something very special when assisting a police officer, initially a stranger to me, who I am convinced would sacrifice their life to save my own, or that of any citizen in need.

Perhaps you would feel the same way too.

Outside of your family, loved ones, police officers, firefighters, or members of America’s wonderful military….do you know anyone who would sacrifice their own life to save yours?

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.


P.S. I also do similar work with Firefighters and I have the same feelings of high respect for these professional life-savers.

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