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  • how to cope

    I am a recruit in our local SO. We do have our own academy, taught by some great instructors.

    A few weeks ago we had a class about Medical examiners, and how as a patrol officer we need to secure, and protect a scene for the Medical Examiner. During the slide show presentation, a picture came up. One of a suicide by high power rifle. I will not go into detail the image I saw, but it for the first time has me questioning if I am going to be able to handle being a LEO.

    I have talked to a couple of buddies who are full time LEOs, and they tell me not to worry about it....that I will get used to it.


    Any one else having problems like this? Any part of the training having anyone else wondering if they can cut it?
    Do the right thing, even when no one is watching

  • #2
    I have watched three people burn alive in front of me and were screaming, as an explorer on a accident scene and saw their corpses after. I help emt's and deputys carry out a kid on a strecher that died right in front of me on another call. And been with alot of deputys on natural death calls and most of them your adrinealine (bad spelling) is kicking and you really don't think about it tell its over but I have not had any problems. The accident with the fire messed me up for a day or so. No biggie. You will find out on rides how you deal with it. Just remember that you can only do so much and that its sad but you go to the next one and mayby save or see something positive. If it was someone I knew that would prob mess me up though. Alot of officers are screwed up to because of what they have seen. It will really mature you.

    Good Luck!!!

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    • #3
      Some days you will have nightmares about it. The divorce rate amongst cops is extremely high for a reason. You will come across some calls where you will never forget the smell or even the sound. After awhile you just get used to it. For a few, it will determine that it isn't the job for them. Not everyone can do this job.

      I saw my first dead body on my very first ridealong when I was 16. It was a suicide and the guy (fairly young, in his mid 20's or so) shot himself in the head. It was relatively "clean" and was fresh. Everything was intact, there was just a hole in his temple (wasn't too big). In a way fresh ones are better because there is no smell.

      I can imagine the fire incident that Spokane was talking about could definitely mess you up for a bit. Everyone is different and deals with things differently. If you have to talk to someone about it, then talk. If you're married or have a spouse, don't shut him/her out. I don't know if telling him/her about *everything* you see is wise but definitely communicate. After you see so many things you just kind of get used to it I suppose.

      Just realize that it's a part of life. They're gone and there is nothing that you can do about it.
      Complete write up of the process with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) - http://forums.officer.com/t187923/

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      • #4
        Some things happen on this job we dont talk about, we try not to bring home, but somehow it ends up hitting home, and hard. I saw my first dead body on my first ridealong at 14 years old. Since then I have seen countless people who have died from suicide, drowning, and other unimaginable causes of death.

        Your reaction is natural, death it somthing that most people do not have to deal with on a daily basis. It is even harder when you have the family, shocked and hystericle, and confort them while still doing you job. you will get used to these grusome images as you deal with them more and more.

        There are people to help you deal with these; Chaplins, other officers, attend the debriefings after incidents. If you need anything you can PM or e-mail me anytime.

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        • #5
          You will learn to separate yourself from the incident. You are there to do your job. Usually adrenalin will take over and you will complete the necessary tasks without hesitation. It's later when you go ewwwww! Yes, you will always remember the details...but if you let it get to you...you're going to have problems.

          Viewing pictures is quite different from actually being there. For example: pictures don't capture the devastation of the WTC..But if you stand at ground zero.........

          Remember...no matter what the incident is: it's a case without a face. Sounds callious but it's reality.

          You'll be fine.
          This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

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          • #6
            Remember that if you want to talk about it DON'T be afraid to. Find a Sarge, or a fellow LEO, or even a Chaplin to talk to. You don't want all that crap to build up in you and suffer from depression.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sorral View Post
              I am a recruit in our local SO. We do have our own academy, taught by some great instructors.

              A few weeks ago we had a class about Medical examiners, and how as a patrol officer we need to secure, and protect a scene for the Medical Examiner. During the slide show presentation, a picture came up. One of a suicide by high power rifle. I will not go into detail the image I saw, but it for the first time has me questioning if I am going to be able to handle being a LEO.

              I have talked to a couple of buddies who are full time LEOs, and they tell me not to worry about it....that I will get used to it.


              Any one else having problems like this? Any part of the training having anyone else wondering if they can cut it?
              I understand your dilemna. Yesterday I went to the Coroner's Office in San Jose, California and boy was that an experience. I saw some slides of a 4 month old baby that was scalped thanks to his mother not placing him in a car seat, a lady who was hit by multiple cars, a lady who was chopped up into pieces, suicide by hanging/self inflicted gun wound, stab wounds, etc. As far as real bodies go I saw a man who was green and purplish, the result of him decomposing, and a stillborn thanks to her mother being an addict.

              Personally, when I walked into the fridge where they stored the bodies, it was surreal. The only way I myself could deal with being surrounded by death was that I realized that my job over the course of my life time is going to be to do my very best to try and prevent the unecessary deaths of those in my community. It is in that way and only that way that I can comfort myself after seing such horrific imagery.

              I hope you yourself can find comfort in the fact that as an Officer your "job" is to help those very kinds of people that I mentioned above. That's enough for me and I hope it is for you too. Once you get that perspective it's easier to deal with it. It doesn't ever have to be 'normal' but just to the point where it won't effect you badly. It makes you appreciate life a hell of a lot more, I'll tell you that much.

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              • #8
                thank s

                I appreciate all the advise. I hope that the day doesn't come that I have to see the gruesome stuff up close, but it probably will. For now, I think I am going to try to concentrate on the other training that I am receiving, my tactics, officer safety, and law. Hopefully being proficient at these aspects, it will help to prevent me from having to deal with the other so much!
                Do the right thing, even when no one is watching

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                • #9
                  Ah, I got that same reaction after seeing a suicide with a sawed-off shotgun to the mouth... Think I was... 14 at the time.

                  In my 3 year's experience, I just deal with the occasional nightmare. And if ya gotta vomit, you gotta vomit.
                  Just not on the evidence.
                  Well life is too short so love the one ya got cuz ya might get run over or ya might get shot.

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                  • #10
                    I was a 16 year old explorer and witnessed a trailor fire where 6 children burned alive. The deputy I was with and myself helped pull the remaining people out of the residence, but were unable to get to all of the children. This was a horrifying experience for me especially at a young age, but it's things like this that will tell you if this job is right for you. We are all human and handle things in different ways. You can't let things get too personal in this job or you will never get any sleep. Law Enforcement officers are usually around in the worst times of peoples lives. Always try and do the best you can, and if you can't live with that, then find another career, cause this one isn't right for you!!
                    "if i've got to turn around....catch all the way up with you and cut on the lights.....somebody's gotta pay the light bill"...

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                    • #11
                      it has never really bothered me, i just treat it like it is part of the job and just keep on rolling.

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                      • #12
                        Sadly, I feel more compassion for animals than I do for people but that's me. Dead bodies don't bother me, it's the families I feel for. Now that I have a daughter, I will say a dead or abused child will definitely **** me off.
                        Moooooooooooo, I'm a goat

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JSD73 View Post
                          Now that I have a daughter, I will say a dead or abused child will definitely **** me off.
                          *nods* I don't have kids, but anything involving them will set me off more than most anything else
                          Well life is too short so love the one ya got cuz ya might get run over or ya might get shot.

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                          • #14
                            You just disassociate yourself as much as you can. Some things will bother you more than others, but you just keep on keepin on and do the job.

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