CREATED Aug. 7, 2013
COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- As the Southwest Florida community begins the long mourning process over the shooting death of Charlotte County Sheriff's Sergeant Michael Wilson. Sheriffs attending the Florida Sheriffs Association summer conference on Marco Island learned how to cope with those types of traumatic events.
Florida Sheriffs Association consultant Dr. Jim Sewell said he is no stranger to tragedy.
"I was with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a long time and when we lost our first agent in the line of duty it really traumatized the department and it takes awhile to get through that kind of event." Sewell said.
Sewell said it is tragic events like the sudden, in the line of duty death of Sgt. Wilson that hit hardest.
" When an officer dies in the line of duty, several things happen. Every officer that's around that officer recognizes how terminal their life can be and how quickly that can happen." Sewell said.
Sewell said being exposed to dangerous and deadly situations really take a toll.
" Over 30 years of law enforcement, you see a lot of bad things and you take a lot of those things to heart and we see police officers in those 30 years have a whole lot of stress that builds up in them."
Sewell said it is the post traumatic and long term stress that often leads to alcohol and substance abuse and in worst case scenario, suicide. During tragedies Monday night's in Charlotte County, he said it is crucial to have help on hand.
"There will be a critical incident stress management team working with these folks around here especially for his own shift, his own squad, that is taken heavier because that was really theirs. So, there will be some crisis intervention being done." Sewell said.
"It also impacts the community when you have a situation like here when you haven't had a death of an officer, it at times brings the community together." Sewell said.
Sheriffs from across the state attending the conference offered condolences to Sgt. Wilson's family and friends. The conference wrapped up on Wednesday.