Today’s Investigative Special Report – December 18, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “Post Traumatic Distress Order In Law Enforcement-One Tragedy May Lead To Another Tragedy”

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut
Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
These past couple weeks has brought about a new definition of the horror, pain, anger, sorrow, unnecessary violence, and distortion of reality which law enforcement officials have had to face over the past month. Nobody can explain the carnage of what transpired on Friday morning in Newtown, Connecticut. Words cannot explain what happened, nor can words heal those who lost their child, wife, husband, relative, family member, friend, or cohort.
Imagine being a law enforcement official who has been a part of the education and training which is required in order to have the knowledge and strategies in how to handle the deadly violence which has become all to common in schools, malls, workplaces, and homes.
Law enforcement officials generally do not have to confront the psychopaths who dress-up in camouflage clothes, arming themselves with hand guns, rifles, and anything else that will assist them in their mission. Some of these crazies have worn bullet proof vests and masks, ultimately killing themselves.
The suicides which the perpetrator commits in their culmination of their mission makes no sense as why would they worry about being shot i.e. wearing  a bullet-proof vests, only to put a gun to their head, then killin
g themselves.
Psychiatrists who have assessed these individuals after the fact immediately perform an autobiographical historical process to ascertain what the individual’s childhood was like. Some in the mental health profession don’t have a clue why these men do what they do, but kill they do. The reasons aren’t any clearer to them than the average person who shakes his head at the heartbreaking news and cries with those close to the victims, even though they personally do not know them. The pain is piercing and can be felt across the globe. Nobody likes death, but to take innocence from children who never did an evil thing in their lives is simply wrong.
People have begun to question the Second Amendment rights which guarantee Americans to ‘bear arms.’ Any limitations or changes to this Amendment would cause one of the greatest conflicts between the government and its citizens. However, something needs to be done, as the access to guns by these insane individuals needs to be curtailed to the degree where they can’t just walk into their father’s closet take out the gun and go out and shoot many people. Further, when James Holmes began purchasing ammunition and multiple weapons from the same retailer, red flags should have begun waving everywhere. Instead the retailer sold and sold and never put together that something wasn’t right in Colorado.
The shooters James Holmes, Jacob Roberts, and Adam Lanza all had one thing in common and that was they had psychological, mental, and emotional disorders. There is no way anyone who knew these individuals didn’t understand or have knowledge that they were suffering from mental 
James Holmes
James Holmes (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)
problems. The gaze which Holmes presents in court is one of an emptiness which persists every time he walks into the courtroom. Critics have suggested that he is putting on a show and that he is mentally disturbed; he wants the court to believe he is insane so he spends the rest of his life in an asylum and not in prison where he would be killed.
It will take many years to understand why Holmes didn’t take his own life like all those who for years have entered schools, killed students, and then themselves. The impulse to be their own judge and jury, like Roberts and Lanza chose to do, is something Holmes didn’t follow after the murder spree that night in the Century Theatre. In fact, police found him by his vehicle getting ready to leave.
The law enforcement officials, fire personnel, and medical personnel are in the position where they have to deal with the aftermath of what these men do to others and themselves. The devastation is emotionally, mentally, and physically something which will affect these professionals in ways which may not immediately be apparent, but affect them it will. It is something that they will never lose sight of and during their lifetime, triggers will reenact the sadness and madness they felt at the time of performing their duties as a law enforcement officer.
Everyday the assailants assault, the rapists rape, and the murderers murder and law enforcement officials deal with these incidences. These crimes are brutal not only to those the crimes are committed on, but to the police officers who have to walk into a home, school, workplace, or mall and see people who are missing body parts, parts of their faces, and so forth.
English: Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression A...
English: Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression Among U.S. Veterans Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan Between Oct 2001 and Oct 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The age of the victim is what wears on the law enforcement official such as what occurred in Newtown. The memories which will forever be branded in their memory banks will begin to haunt them no matter how they responded to their initial role they may have played upon arriving at the crime scene. Many officials will look at the innocence of the children who died and picture their own child as being one of the victims. There is no way of approaching the crime scene as a professional and not make it personal. Law enforcement officials are human begins and they have feelings, emotions, reactions, and sometimes get angry at what others do to other people.
This picture will haunt them for that moment in time and they will be in an over protection mode of their children no matter how old their children are. This may be an over-reaction but the official will process what they could have done and should have done when it comes to evaluating what happened in that school, theatre, or mall.
The law enforcement management must be proactive in how they approach dealing with the traumatic nature of these crimes. No matter what their officers tell them a psychological assessment needs to be performed on any officer who responded to the scene and especially those who had the task of processing the crime scene. Being assigned to work in a classroom, mall, or theatre, is a process which the officer will deal with from the moment they step inside the crime scene until the day they die.
The mentality of management must be that of which the military utilizes when dealing with horrific major injuries and death sites. Law enforcement must mimic the policies, procedures, and processes the military utilizes. The number of law enforcement officials who may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may never be known. However, studies have demonstrated that it does exist and of the million law enforcement officers there are in the United States the percentage of officers who suffer from PTSD is extraordinary. Further, try to count the uncountable number of individuals who wore the badge over the past century, who have since retired, who are still alive, and are affected by violent and horrible death scenes they saw while they wore the badge, every time they close their eyes.
Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.
Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In perusing the multiple media channels who had cameras set-up outside the Newtown incident displayed hundreds of law enforcement officials on the scene performing their specific tasks, roles, responsibilities, and functions. The question which needs to be asked is how many of these officers were psychologically, mentally, and emotionally affected in a negative manner by being a part of the incident and those who was assigned to take care of the dead? This sounds like a question which should be easy to answer, but law enforcement officials have this shield around them where they withdraw for that moment so they can do their job.
These law enforcement officials who dedicate their lives to protect and serve their communities probably asked themselves this past week, “Why me?” Most individuals only see a dead person when they attend the funeral of a friend or family member. Law enforcement officials observe dead people from time to time, but no one no matter how desensitized  they have become because of the job they do can train for such horrendous events such as what has happened in 2012 here in the United States. As President Obama said tonight as he spoke to an audience in Newtown, this is the fourth occasion since I began my Presidency that I have had to talk to families about the loss of their loved ones; it has to stop.
Much can be learned from these types of incidences which will continue to occur as there are breaking points in individuals psychologically, mentally, and emotionally and when the break occurs, their behavior will be inconsistent to the point where they may act out like Holmes, Roberts, and Lanza did.
The mental health community must be progressive in this time of need by so many people, including those in law enforcement. Prevention is the key to dealing with situations where professionals have to deal with situations and scenarios that the normal individuals cannot normally process. Mental health programs need to be developed where a community of mental health professionals can quickly organize and come to an event such as what happened in Newtown and begin assisting law enforcement with the management of those who are dealing with trauma and so much grief.
Moreover, the mental health community must establish contracts with law enforcement agencies so when these types of violent situations and other similar violent scenarios occur where law enforcement has the role and responsibilities to handle these types of incidences the professionals can receive the necessary and needed counseling. If not, the end result will be that a great number of officials will be stricken with PTSD which eventually may become a part of the official’s personality. Preparation is the key to a successful and positive outcome for professionals who deal with death, not the normal death, if there is such a thing, but violent deaths where a monster is released from the zoo he lives in and takes away other’s lives to heal whatever pain they are feeling.

Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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