Monday, April 9, 2012

A Cop's Death Affects An Entire Agency For Years To Come

This weekend was a sad one for police officers in Central Texas. Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron was shot to death in the line of duty after responding to a call of an intoxicated man at an Austin Wal-Mart.

The Austin American Statesman had an interesting article on what Austin cops will likely face in the coming days and years in dealing with the death of their colleague.

Unofficially, individual officers — trained to gather and analyze crime scene details — will pass around every aspect of what occurred in the events leading up to Padron's sudden and brief struggle with suspect Brandon M. Daniel.

"There's a tremendous need to find out what happened," said Laurence Miller, a Florida psychologist who works with police departments and is the author of the book "Practical Police Psychology." "You can expect a lot of micro-dissection."

One reason is, police simply want to compile information out of professional curiosity, Miller said.

But another is a sort of defense mechanism that permits officers to continue performing their work without paralyzing fear. "There's a tremendous identification factor," he said. "If I understand what happened, maybe next time I can do something about it."

I have worked in law enforcement in Central Texas for over twenty one years both as a sworn officer and as a civilian crime analyst. I know and have worked with a number of Austin Police officers over the years as I work only about 60 miles north of Austin. I found the response on social media by officers I know in the area to be visceral.

Anytime a line of duty death occurs, especially if it's geographically close to you, you identify with the cop that got killed. You wonder how many times you have cheated death on a call. You realize that it could have happened to you. I still do even though I gave up my badge years ago when I became a crime analyst and am no longer on the streets.

The 100 Club of Central Texas is accepting donations to assist the family of Officer Padron. If you are so inclined, you can visit their website.

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