It’s 'OK to be Ok' when you have to take a life

The officer who approached international trainer Brian Willis at a speaking engagement recently is not unique, unfortunately. He’d shot and killed a suspect who was trying to kill him—and he was troubled because he didn’t feel any anguish about it. He worried that that made him “some kind of a psycho.”

“We make a mistake by telling officers that if they kill an offender they’re going to have emotional turmoil afterward,” Willis says. “For a long time, we’ve heard statistics quoted about the high percentage of officers who take a life and then leave the profession because they can’t cope.

“But research conducted by Dr. Audrey Honig, the chief psychologist for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, has proven that’s a myth. The majority adjust very well after a shooting and are fine with what they’ve done. Yet by continuing to emphasize the negative possibilities, we create the expectation that you’re supposed to feel bad. If you don’t, you question yourself.”

With rare exception, Willis points out, assailants are killed because they pose a mortal threat to the officer involved or someone else. “In a critical moment, the officer does what needs to be done and he saves a life by doing it.

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