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TPD peer group offers support to officers working on traumatic cases

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 5:58 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - The recent deaths of two teens weighed heavily on the minds of some police officers working to solve their murders in the Tuscaloosa area. That’s why peer support teams try to help talk those officers through what they may be dealing with.

“You know it’s a senseless murder. You know we see it all the time where adults are shot and it’s terrible. When it’s a kid that takes it to a whole other level,” Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley told us hours after police learned 13 year-old Kei’lan Allen was shot and killed during a drive by shooting while inside his home on Washington Square.

Blankley expressed what many officers may have felt at a crime scene on Friday night. “We had calls from several of the officers because of how large those scenes were. There were lots of officers involved. More officers involved means more officers were exposed to that type of trauma,” Sgt. Jason Hallman explained in regards to Friday night’s fatal shooting and a shooting Tuesday evening at Northport’s Wendy’s that left 16 year-old Trinity Shannon dead.

That’s why Sgt. Hallman said he and other members of the department’s Peer Support Team make themselves available to officers who need help dealing with their emotions when involved in traumatic cases. “Cops don’t like to talk about things they see. They don’t want to share that with other people. They don’t want to off load that. They just want to put that away and not deal with it and it eats away on the inside,” Hallman continued.

Hallman worries that can eventually hurt officers if what they experience bothers them, but they’re unable to talk about it. He hopes by talking to them from one cop to another and not judging them helps them express what they’re dealing with so that stress doesn’t affect them on the job or at home. “That’s the problem that if you don’t off load, that it spills over inti every aspect of your life. It will affect your job or affect your family,” Hallman added. “And those are the people you want to protect the most. And those are the ones that will be affected the most.”

Members of the Peer Support Team are not trained counselors, but what the Peer Support Team talked with officers about is considered confidential. Hallman said there is a place for those professional counselors and that they are sometimes needed to help those with more in depth concerns.

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