MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Police officers see more than most, and often it’s not good. Anyone will tell you police work can take a toll. It’s why many say psychological care is crucial for those on the force.

The ones we call to protect us also still have to protect themselves. So when something like the Tyre Nichols beating happens, it raises the question, what went wrong?

That’s the question Psychologist Michael Broder asked for years as he served as Chief Psychologist of the Philadelphia Police Department. He was brought in on high-profile cases much like the Tyre Nichols case.

“Help determine whether there was some kind of a systemic problem within the system or whether this was just the act of a couple of rogue cops,” Broder said.

He said only one percent of officers in a police department is actually what he calls rogue cops, who go against standard operating procedures and have no business being in the line of work.

While it’s not the norm, Dr. Broder said the psychological toll of police work is normal.

“Even if it’s stopping somebody for a traffic violation, you never know what’s gonna happen. You never know whether that person is going to have a gun. You never know whether that person is going to make up some kind of story about you,” he said.

Then there is the adrenaline when something does occur, and officers have to decide whether to use deadly force.

“If it turns out that they were wrong, there was a water pistol, or the guy didn’t have a gun. He just said he had a gun, or something else like that happens. Not only are they facing disciplinary action and loss of their job, but the criminal charges,” Dr. Broder said.

He said it’s why keeping emotions in check is essential.

“We used to do trainings at the Police Academy and teach them that when you start getting angry when you start doing when you start acting out of anger and things like that. That’s when it’s time to come and see us,” Dr. Broder said.

And not at police headquarters where officers could feel stigmatized for seeking help. The Executive Director of the Afro-American Police Association and retired Memphis Police Lt. Tyrone Currie agrees.

“It still has the stigma if you seek psychological help, that you are weak and you are weak for this job,” Currie said.

As for what cities can do to put more priority on the psychological side of policing, Dr. Broder said departments have to give officers support, especially the 99 percent who are doing the job right and still having to deal with the public backlash over the one percent who aren’t.

“The negative impact it has on our psyche. Say look I am angry, I am outraged, I am grieving. But at the same time, I have to endure the criticism of the entire nation,” Currie said.

Police departments do psychological testing of officers. They measure everything from their reaction to potential situations, impulse control, judgment, and any pre-disposition to problems.

“It picks out a profile for depression, psychopathy, anger,” Dr. Broder said.

But Broder said the problem is officers can be coached on how to pass the test.

Lt. Currie said he would like to see continuous testing. We have asked MPD about the psychological test now given to MPD officers. We are awaiting their response.

Meanwhile, experts say there is no more critical function.

“If we’re owed one thing for the taxes we paid, it’s safety. It’s protection,” Dr. Broder said.