PUEBLO – They’re trained to neutralize threats to public safety, subdue criminals and protect communities across the United States.
But police officers, including here in Colorado, are not equipped to handle the emotional and psychological toll associated with the use of lethal force.
That’s according to Sgt. Daniel Anderson, who’s worked in the Pueblo Police Department for 25 years. Anderson was one of seven officers involved in a fatal shooting on Jan. 25, 2015, after a male suspect fired shots toward officers.
“Everybody says we’re trained for this, but what people don’t realize, when you take somebody’s life, there’s no training for that,” Anderson said. “I don’t care how hard you think you are, how ruthless you think you are, there’s no training for that.”
Working the daytime patrol shift, Anderson was called to an in-progress home invasion. The suspects then fled, leading to a pursuit, before one of the suspects got out of the car and aimed a gun at the officers.
That suspect began shooting, causing the officers to fire back. The shooting ultimately claimed the suspect’s life.
Anderson sat down with News 5’s Sam Kraemer to explain what he and others have gone through having been involved in fatal shootings, which he said appear to be on the rise in recent years.
He was put on administrative leave for nearly two weeks following the shooting. He said it brought him a rush of emotions.
“When you’re involved in an incident like that, it’s hard to turn back the clock and go about day-to-day life,” he said. “There’s anxiety, did you do the right thing? Was everything done according to the way we do things? Are my guys OK?”
What’s worse, the officers involved essentially become suspects in that shooting — the subject of interrogation for just doing their job.
“We didn’t go there looking to shoot someone that day. That individual forced our hand,” Anderson said.
Anderson credits conversation with fellow officers, friends and people of similar faith in helping him move on from that incident. He now offers himself as a resource toward other officers that endure similar scenarios.