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How do police officers cope when a colleague is killed in the line of duty?

New York State Police

The law enforcement community across New York continues to mourn the loss of a colleague, after State Trooper Joel Davis was shot killed Sunday night while responding to a call in Jefferson County. 

They may not have worked in the same county, or same law enforcement agency, but some Onondaga County Sheriff’s deputies knew Davis. It’s the nature of the job.

“We see each other on calls for service. We go to training together. We go to schools together. And we’re all part of the community,” said Onondaga County Undersheriff Jason Cassailia.

Any time a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty, it’s a reminder to all officers how dangerous the job is, said Cassalia.

“I really don’t know a law enforcement officer that doesn’t understand that that could be them at some point,” said Cassailia. “It’s a dangerous job and it’s something you accept when you take this role on. But when you see something like this it brings it close to home.”

Agencies like the sheriff’s department are doing a better job of helping officers deal with that reality. For example, within the last two years the sheriff’s department has implemented a peer counseling program.

“We have members that are trained and are throughout the organization and that can talk to their peers and be that person and help them,” he said. “And not only in times when they get asked, but times when they see their peers struggling.”

Cassalia also says there are chaplains and employee assistance programs to help in times of grief.

The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department will send a color guard detail to Davis’ funeral on Saturday, and will also support state police by covering for them in the field.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.