should abusive police get compensation for stress?

“Does California cop who pepper-sprayed Occupy protesters deserve compensation for stress?” (article)

The now-famous officer who casually and unempathetically sprayed pepper spray on the faces of protesters, who were sitting down, earned him condemnation and, apparently, post-traumatic stress.

It’s hard to forget the video of University of California Davis officer John Pike casually hosing the huddled protesters, walking down the line as if he was spraying his roses for aphids.

The incident attracted widespread condemnation and ridicule.

The Associated Press now reports Pike, who was fired the following year after a review found his assault unwarranted, is appealing for benefits, claiming the fallout from the online disclosure of his identity caused him psychiatric injury.
Hackers posted Pike’s information on the web, AP said, leading to death threats and widespread derision.

It’s hard to sympathize with the officer’s stress. Police are trained to take control of situations, and for good reason, but it’s hard to see the point in taking control of non-criminal acts such as peaceful protesting. The fact that the officer is stressed is, overall, a good thing, insofar as it discourages such antisocial behavior of police in general.

As to the question of police access to counselors due to the expected on the job stress, I fully support the idea. This should be a free benefit, including for police who have been involved in abuse of suspects (i.e., peaceful protesters). And anything that reduces the perceived stigma associated with counseling should be encouraged.

The public benefits from police having access to counselors. If police officers can deal constructively with their understandably high stress levels, then externalizing that stress on the helpless public will be less common.


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