During my recent interviews with the Assistant Senior District Attorney, the head of Victims’/Witness Assistance Program, Victims’ Rights Advocate, and a retired Homicide Detective, I brought this topic up. I took for granted that law enforcement and others that deal with gruesome crimes attend mandatory debriefing or counseling. They are not.
In the field of law enforcement especially, Homicide, or victims’ advocates, the encounters with horrendous crime scenes is part of their job. The gruesome scenes would give most of us nightmares for the rest of our lives. As one retired Homicide Detective, Jim Conrad told me, “Crime scenes are not contained in a neat little square, the smells cannot be described in a photo or a television show. The details of what was done to a victim can’t possibly be forgotten. All of the senses a person has goes with them as they approach a victim who has been brutally murdered. And if the victim has begun to decompose, well, I don’t even want to talk about the things we see then.” Yet law enforcement is expected to buck up, toughen up, because image is everything. They are supposed to handle anything and show no weakness, for weakness could mean losing their job.
I am glad that New Hampshire is looking into the possibility of having mandatory debriefing after they encounter the unspeakable details of a crime scene. I hope to speak with Colonel Robert L. Quinn on this subject the next time I am there. If debriefing is mandatory, no one will be looked upon as weak because they need counseling. So much more needs to be done to encourage those that see the evils of evils to reach out.
In my opinion, if you think it’s normal to process the horrific things you see, then something is wrong.