Once Shunned, Officers Now Being Encouraged To Get Help After Shooting

Oct 22, 2018, 8:34 PM | Updated: Oct 23, 2018, 11:28 am

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – With an influx of officer-involved shootings across the Wasatch Front over the last two weeks, KSL wanted to know what police departments do for the mental wellbeing of an officer who has to pull the trigger.

Every time there’s a police officer involved in a shooting, Matt Pennington said he feels like he has to defend his profession.

“We’re out there doing our jobs, and we’re trying to keep people safe,” he said. “I can say nobody signs up for this job to go take somebody’s life.”

The lieutenant with the South Jordan Police Department said he knows how much it affects an officer who makes the split-second decision to discharge their firearm.

Lt. Matt Pennington

“We’re not robots. We don’t go back to work the next day. That’s something the officers will live with for the rest of their lives,” Pennington said. “It affects their home life and it affects their family life.”

Pennington said he knew first hand, because he’s still living with it, eight years after he was the officer who fired his firearm.

“It was Christmas day. It’s a day that I’ll never forget. I’ll live with it forever,” he said while choking up. “Sorry. It’s hard to think about a little bit. It’s something – as my kids get older they have questions about, and I have to relive it. All the time. Every single Christmas morning.”

Even though investigators determined Pennington was justified in the shooting, it took speaking to a psychologist to get better.

He said killing someone isn’t easy to recover from, even when it was determined to be justified.

“I can tell you that it takes a long time. From personal experience, I can tell you,” said Pennington. “It took me about 2 1/2 years to get to the point where I can talk about the incident and not have it affect me as if I was still going through it.”

Despite being trained to make those split-second decisions, Pennington said it still took a toll.

“We train officers very, very well on how to deal with the moment. Where we’re getting better at and what we used to struggle with, is preparing them for the aftermath,” he said.

That’s why getting professional help is so important, KSL was told.

“You can’t understand what effect it has on you until you’re involved in that situation,” said Dr. Brian Partridge, a psychologist in Riverton who runs The Partridge Group.

Partridge works mainly with police officers and first responders on dealing with traumatic situations.

He, too, has heard about the six police shootings in the past two weeks along the Wasatch Front and hopes the officers involved are encouraged to get help.

“These are people,” said Partridge. “These are humans that do a job as law enforcement, and they have lives outside of their work. When they go home, they’re dads, they’re wives, they’re husbands, they’re mothers. Yeah, they’re humans.”

Law enforcement has never been an easy job. However, it is getting easier to get help.

“We’re not too macho to go talk to somebody. If you’re not okay or if you’re dealing with something where you still get an emotional response, go talk to somebody,” said Pennington. “If you’re somebody out there that is still dealing with something or you’re having trouble processing, talk to somebody.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

FILE — An Ogden man was named as a suspect in the fatal shooting of a Cortez, Colorado police off...

Mark Jones

Ogden man named as suspect in fatal shooting of Colorado police officer, suspect also killed

Police in Colorado have an identified an Ogden man as a suspect involved in the shooting death of a Cortez police officer.

15 hours ago

A long-time and well-known firefighter in Utah, Fitzgerald Petersen, has died after a battle with c...

Pat Reavy

Beloved Utah firefighter dies after battle with cancer

A long-time Utah firefighter, beloved by many across the state, passed away Friday after battling cancer.

16 hours ago

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Saturday he believes Republicans have the votes to launch a formal...

Andrew Millman and Alexandra Ross, CNN

Speaker Johnson says he believes GOP has the votes for Biden impeachment inquiry

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Saturday he believes Republicans have the votes to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

16 hours ago

emergency lights...

Mark Jones

Child at the center of a Amber Alert in Idaho found dead

The 10-month-old boy at the center of an Amber Alert issued Friday by Idaho authorities has been found dead.

18 hours ago

Matt Evans hugs Wendy Stapley, the living donor coordinator for Intermountain Health, after a press...

Emily Ashcraft

Intermountain Medical Center ranks first for well-matched kidney donations this year

A perfect kidney match can be hard to find, but Matt Evans' wife Cathy was able to get a kidney that was a perfect match for her transplanted on Tuesday because of the National Kidney Registry and its paired exchange program.

18 hours ago

Utah's Hogle Zoo announced Saturday the death of its female red panda, Priya, 5, who died on Tuesda...

Mark Jones

Utah’s Hogle Zoo announces death of female red panda, Priya

Utah's Hogle Zoo announced Saturday the death of its female red panda, Priya, 5, who died on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Once Shunned, Officers Now Being Encouraged To Get Help After Shooting