View Full Version : PTSD and Law Enforcement

02-22-2010, 10:51 PM
My main character is a violent crimes investigator for a magical branch of law enforcement. Due to the events of book 1, she is starting to suffer from PTSD - reliving the events in her head, talking to herself, and losing time.

Would her superior officer allow her to work on a case that is similar to what caused the PTSD? I'm thinking not, which is causing me no end of trouble. How can I get her on this case? At least for a little while. Events later in the book will cause her to go maverick, but she needs to be present at the earlier crime scenes.

Also, what recommendations would a therapist make in regards to this? How would they diagnose and treat PTSD? Would they advise her to take a leave of absence or continue to work?

02-22-2010, 11:21 PM
Under normal circumstances, if the PTSD is getting to the point that you indicated, I would think a superior officer would take her off duty until she was treated, if it is a fairly modern force. Being a "magical branch" however, you have a little more leeway in having the supervisor overlook it (is he a friend? he might be less than neutral and let her have more slack that she should). For being at the earlier crime scenes, is it clear from the get go that the case will be similar to the earlier one? If not, they may let her in. Otherwise, if she is still on active duty, she could just show up and sweet talk her way in at least once or twice before she gets hammered from above.

http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp has some pretty good info on diagnosis and treatment of PTSD. Its geared mostly towards Veterans, but should be helpful for your research as well. http://www.calea.org/Online/newsletter/No87/ptsd.htm might also be useful (a site for a man who researched PSTD specifically in police officers)

02-23-2010, 10:43 PM
Thank you! That second site especially will help immensely.

02-25-2010, 02:35 AM
This is not specifically about law enforcement, but a fabulous book on PTSD is: "Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character," by Jonathan Shay. Great book by one of the leading experts in the field.

Linda Adams
02-25-2010, 07:05 AM
I've seen someone suffering from PTSD. It was on the first military post I served, and he was a regular at the community center. He was always by himself, and then suddenly we could tell he'd gone back in time to the Vietnam War. He'd start talking to people who weren't there, making battle noises--it was literally like he wasn't in the same room with us. People would hear him and steer clear, like he would give them cooties or something. In his case, he never got violent, but just sat in a chair and left everyone else alone while he was back in time. I heard at one point he was retired on 100% disability.

Losing time starts to sound like a serious thing, particularly for a law enforcement officer who carries a weapon. If she started showing signs that she was having trouble, a good supervisor probably would start talking about her taking time off and getting some help. However, there also can be some bias in there to her reactions (that she's overreacting, that it's all in her head, etc.) because of her gender. I saw this a lot in the Army. Just a basic example: The female barracks was utterly freezing. Heat wasn't working at all. Some thirty people complained to their various squad leaders. The acting first sergeant immediately made up his mind that we were whining about nothing (a phrase every one of us heard over and over) and only grudgingly called the repairman. I suspect he might have told the guy that we were whining about nothing because the guy spent less than five minutes and said nothing was wrong. We continued to complain and no one listened. Not one person actually had gone into the barracks at night to see how cold it was. I was on duty with one of the female NCOs and she repeated whining mantra, so I told her, "Check for yourself and you tell me if we're whining." We went to the male barracks, and then the female ones. We got the heat fixed the next day. It was something that should have been a simple fix, but the first person who hit it simply declared that "females whine" and kept repeating it so it turned into a major problem.

There was a lot of little things like that, so you may be able to work some additional conflict in with regards to her reactions and how people treat her based on gender.

02-26-2010, 10:03 AM
Jeseymour, I'll have to see if my library has that book. It might give me a few ideas. Thanks.

Linda, thank you! I was actually wondering if I was going overboard when I had somebody leave a box of tissues on her desk.