GSO Police Officer Talks About The Psychological Effects After Shooting A Suspect

10:43 PM, Sep 20, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC--  A Greensboro Police Officer talks about the psychological, emotional, and physical effects he experienced after shooting and killing someone in 2004.

Police take an oath to protect and serve. Sometimes, that oath puts them in danger or warrants them hurting or killing another person. On August 17th, a Winston-Salem police detective shot and killed Dallas Conner. Police say Conner was trying to rob Kevin Powell Motorsports.

On August 27th, two Randolph County deputies were shot and injured during a traffic stop. They're recovering. Deputies found the suspect after a three-hour long manhunt.

On Thursday morning, two High Point police officers shot and killed a man who approached officers holding a knife outside an apartment building.

Whether the officers have been shot or are the ones pulling the trigger, these incidents can impact their lives forever.

Greensboro Police Sgt. Jeff DeYoung sat down with News 2's Liz Crawford to talk about his first-hand experience.

Sgt. DeYoung shot and killed a man in 2004 during a stand-off situation. He was working with the GPD Special Response Team (SRT).

After years in the military and over fifteen years as a police officer, Sgt. DeYoung thought he was prepared for this circumstance.

"Contrary to what I believed myself before the shooting, it does effect you in different ways in some ways you never though imaginable. It can cause a chemical imbalance sometimes for some officers. I think that's what I think I experienced personally. Not all officers experience the same thing."

DeYoung also talked about how his name was in the spotlight after the shooting. While trying to cope, he also had to deal with public scrutiny in his community.

"It's public knowledge, your name is released to the press. You can't hide from it. Your friends and family get all the detail. Your co-workers get all the detail. And, it's that fishbowl syndrome, where in the military, it stays there."

Sgt. DeYoung said some of the emotional and physical reactions he experienced after the shooting were paranoia, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and panic attacks. At times, he wanted to justify his actions but couldn't talk about it because it was an on-going investigation.

It's not easy for the average person to understand the psychological effects associated with an officer-involved shooting. DeYoung thinks that often every-day citizens look at law enforcement as invincible.

Just like anyone, after traumatic events, police too need to cope and recover. That's why there's a protocol in place. The department required he take administrative leave. He also had to see a psychologist and be cleared to go back to work. GPD also offers a peer support team.

"We try to talk to our spouses, our family, friends and they don't do what we do. The thing about peer support is they walk the same walk. They understand most of what happens on a daily basis to a police officer," said DeYoung.

WFMY News 2

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