The stress behind the badge
LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Stress is an occupational hazard for law enforcement.
The situations they face and even daily tasks add up.
Homicides, deadly crashes, shootings; officers are trained to handle every call, but there’s not a class at the academy for dealing with the aftermath of the horrific scenes.
Officers are the ones the public turns to when there’s an emergency or when chaos is unfolding.
Regardless of how emotional or traumatic a scene is, they have to park their emotions and react in a professional manner, but once the badge is off, the emotions are released.
“No matter how long you’ve been in this profession, there will still be things, there will still be scenes, there will still be calls that will actually stick with you. Some for life, some take a good while to get over,” says Lowndes County Narcotics Task Force Master Sergeant Kevin Forrester.
Crime scenes of all kinds; homicides, shootings, assaults, and chases.
Law enforcement officers are the first on scene.
Although they’re highly trained, there are some things no amount of training can prepare you for.
“I went and responded to a wreck with my training officer, that would end up being a fatality with a baby in the car, and that was one of the first times where I sat there and said, I didn’t know this was going to be like this and how much more is coming because this is like day two or day three,” says Lowndes County Narcotics Task Force Captain Archie Williams.
Williams has been in law enforcement for two decades.
He’s seen the worst of the worst, and also has gone through one of any officers worst fears.
Back in 2006, he and another officer responded to a domestic call.
It was a call he’ll never forget.
“I took several blows to the back. My head was split open for a good bit and I was actually not conscious, so I don’t know how long I was unconscious, it was a matter of seconds I believe. When I did come to, the other officer there was lifeless on the ground being beat in the head.”
Williams said after situations like these, sometimes the best way to cope is by talking it through with other officers who have had similar experiences.
Forrester is one of those officers.
Not long ago, Forrester assisted with a four county chase that ended with him being shot.
“That was one of the toughest things for me to be able to get over. I cannot tell you that I’m totally over it. There are a range of emotions that you go through.”
The same thing can be said about the homicides Forrester has seen and worked over his nearly 25 years on the job.
“Some of the ones haven’t gone away and not to be particular about any certain one, but one where I was only an officer for two years, I still see it very vividly.”
Both deputies say everything they’ve gone through has made them even more cautious on and off the job.
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