(WFXR) — Officer-involved shootings can lead to stress for both authorities and communities, but the weight of these serious situations can be more difficult for some Virginia law enforcement agencies to carry than others.
“If it’s a very small agency, they may rely on other police agencies, the neighboring agencies, and even State Police to ask for some assistance until the investigation is complete,” said Dr. Tod Burke, a former police officer and retired criminal justice professor at Radford University.
Burke says that investigation can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, but despite the timeline, law enforcement agencies have to find a way to get the job done.
“It’s so important to make sure that the investigation is not compromised in any way, and you know sacrifices like that will be made,” Burke said.
Even though many forces are already shorthanded, Capt. Steve Richardson of the Danville Police Department says agencies need to be flexible.
“Any manpower shortage most law enforcement agencies are facing, you have to adapt and adjust schedules and manpower to make sure you still fill the needs of the community,” said Richardson.
Both Richardson and Burke say an officer’s decision to shoot is made in a split second. Although the training is extensive, the effect on the officer and members of the officer’s community can be devastating.
“I don’t think anybody is excited or happy or anything positive comes out of those shooting incidents for anybody involved. There is stress involved for everybody,” Richardson said.
Richardson says officer-involved shootings are an unfortunate part of the job, so law enforcement agencies work with one another when something like that occurs.
In addition, both Burke and Richardson tell WFXR News there are mental health resources available to officers while they are on administrative leave, adding that the goal is to do what they can to get good officers back out and keeping communities safe.