WLWT: UC expert discusses psychology of officer-involved shootings

A Cincinnati police officer recently fatally shot a man after he reportedly pointed a loaded gun at the officer. 

While not commenting directly on the case, Erica Birkley, PhD, talked with WLWT News about the general psychological impact for an officer following such an incident.

Birkley, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and a UC Health psychologist who specializes in work with first responders, said officers who experience a highly traumatic situation will immediately go through an acute stress reaction that can vary from body to body.

She said the approach to the recovery process for first responders should mirror the mindset and care provided to those in the military.

"With our police officers, for example, they're truly every day their family says goodbye to them not knowing if they will return home," Birkley told WLWT. "And, so, they are charged with that same duty that we charge our service members and are absolutely deserving of our high-quality care afterward to promote resilience and to promote recovery after a traumatic event."

Birkley said the timeline for an officer returning to work after a traumatic incident depends on police protocol, assessments and recommendations made by a team of mental health professionals observing physical and mental wellbeing. 

Watch or read the WLWT story.

Featured image at top of police car: Photo/Michael Fortsch/Unsplash.