Some officers face PTSD after witnessing tragedies

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The mad dash to get a shooting suspect off of the streets ended in tragedy on Saturday night.

"We have an officer down and injured on Beale Street," officers were heard saying over radios.

Officer Verdell Smith was knocked off of his feet when police said Justin Welch slammed into him with a stolen car.

Law enforcement sources described the scene as "gruesome."

The men and women Officer Smith worked with everyday were forced to witness the attack.

What happened at Beale and B.B. King can often leave officers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"They're surrounded by death. They only get called to people's houses in difficult situations and that takes a toll on a person," C.T. Freeman told WREG.

Freeman is a retired officer and spent more than 30 years in law enforcement.

"You saw increased divorce rate in police, you saw increased domestic violence, you saw increased alcohol and drug use," Freeman explained.

Many departments, including the Memphis Police Department, use critical stress debriefing.

"Let the officers here vent, let them talk about what happened, and give them some coping mechanisms to deal with this," Freeman described the process.

Trained officers from other departments or cities usually work with those affected.

MPD uses off site doctors and pastors to facilitate the process.

"A police officer is not somebody special," Freeman said. "They are a human being just like you and I. They're a normal person but they have to deal with these abnormal situations."