“Imagine the most horrific things that happen in this city that no one really hears about or sees. Homicides, rapes, car accidents, violent assaults, this is the kind of stuff we deal with on a daily basis.”
As you might know, June is PTSD Awareness Month. This quote (above)—from a Canadian law enforcement officer—conveys the magnitude of anxiety-inducing encounters officers may face. The National Center for PTSD encourages us to learn about posttraumatic stress and spread the word about effective treatment, connect with others to work together, and share information to support those in need.
PTSD may manifest in varying symptoms, which could develop soon after the traumatic event, or months or years later. Some common indicators include reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, negative changes in beliefs and feelings, and feeling keyed up or jittery.
This disorder can affect anyone who has an especially distressing experience, but law enforcement officers may be more susceptible to triggers due to the work they do. According to Cop Shock: Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), by A R Kates, as many as one in three police officers may suffer from PTSD, which could lead to depression, family issues, addictions, and in some cases, suicide.
A study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that of 37 police officers who had been involved in serious shooting incidents between 1977 and 1984, seventeen (46%) were diagnosed with PTSD. Of those who were not immediately diagnosed, 17 still had notable PTSD symptoms. Only three officers showed no symptoms of PTSD at all.
The National Law Enforcement Museum is being built to tell the story of American law enforcement and make it safer for those who serve. Raising awareness about real dangers that affect the lives of officers, like PTSD, is essential to our mission. Do your part to learn, connect, and share today.