Posted: Sep 8, 2011 8:14 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - Mandatory counseling sessions have been held for Thibodaux Police officers dealing with the gruesome death of a disabled child.
Jori Lirette, 7, was found decapitated and dismembered Aug. 14 outside the home he shared with his parents. The second-grader had cerebral palsy, was fed through a tube and used a wheelchair. His father, Jeremiah Wright, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the case.
Counselors affiliated with the Southern Law Enforcement Foundation in Baton Rouge were called in by Police Chief Scott Silverii to give officers an opportunity to air and come to terms with the feelings they experienced.
Silverii told The Daily Comet that a session was held the day after Jori's funeral.
"Having gone through a traumatic experience, I thought it was a beneficial and a valuable resource," Silverii said.
Any employee who had anything to do with the case, from dispatchers to detectives, was required to attend, and others could voluntarily join. Silverii said officers can participate in future sessions if they choose.
"Professionally, there's that automatic mind set," Silverii said. "`I have to secure the crime scene. I have to look for evidence. I have to look for witnesses.' But no matter how well you're trained, you're still human."
Matthew Guller, a police psychologist at The Institute for Forensic Psychology in Oakland, N.J., said the way officers handle stress associated with traumatic situations varies from person to person, though talking about it in a group setting has been proven beneficial.
"Going through the details of the scenario is the most common form of debriefing," Guller said. "It's often done in a group, and that's helpful in itself, to share the experience with others."
The stress outside of an officer's work should also be considered, said Gary Aumiller, executive director of the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology.
"It could be a divorce, or a child being sick," Aumiller said, adding that having children can make dealing with a child's killing particularly difficult. "Seeing these things could push them over the edge."