Officer Safety Corner: Working to Eliminate Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Speaking at the IACP 2016 Annual Conference and Exposition before an audience of sheriffs, police chiefs, and agency commanders from around the world, Sheriff Leon Lott of the Richland County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Department described one of the potentially most damaging threats besetting his department—posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Lott explained that he had a captain serving in the Richland County Sheriff’s Department who killed an attacker in a gunfight, a lieutenant who was wounded in a gunfight and believed he would die before being rescued, a sergeant who lost his eye in a gunfight, and another sergeant who witnessed her law enforcement partner’s suicide 90 days before she was forced to take the life of a suspect who attacked her with a knife. Some officers were willing to talk about their traumatic experiences, yet many other officers were not.