An incident that had the Arab American community up in arms has resulted in criminal charges being filed against an Oak Lawn police officer who allegedly committed official misconduct in the court of arrest. The officer will have to face charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct after a grand jury decided to pursue charges against the officer. The Oak Lawn police department has declined to comment on the incident.
Two other officers involved in the altercation were not charged, much to the disappointment of the family. This appears to be the new normal as far as police violence goes. The law will charge the individual as a scapegoat who committed the most egregious violation, and then those who stood by and watched or partook in a lesser way get off without repercussion.
The officers were filmed during the altercation. Two were holding the victim on the ground while a third continually struck him. The video went viral, and the police department defended the officers stating that they were following their training. This, too, is part of the problem.
Police departments are scared
Police officers have a job to do, and they are not necessarily being supported properly, which is adding fuel to an already dangerous fire. While it’s easy to call out police officers for misconduct, and we should do this in 100% of situations, it is also true that police officers need mental health services that they are not getting.
Police officers face more situations that can cause PTSD, depression, and anxiety than the general public. Nonetheless, getting them workers’ compensation for mental health situations is proving difficult. Some police officers think they can suck it up and roll with the punches, but often, the response to the trauma erupts in some other way.
All across the country, police officers are fighting for mental health benefits through workers’ compensation that allows them to take needed time off to deal with a traumatic event. These types of claims, however, are much more difficult to file than an officer who is physically injured on the job. While the physically injured officer will get compensation as a matter of course. The officer who experiences a traumatic event without a physical injury may feel like he is in an uphill battle against the workers’ compensation insurer.
To be sure, workers’ compensation insurers want to pay out as little as they can. However, it may add to a situation where tensions between police and the public spill over into a default mistrust of the police. It would surely be better to have police officers who were in the right frame of mind doing our policing. We don’t want traumatized officers interacting with the public until that trauma has been addressed through counseling.
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