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Hidden Effects on Police Officers Forum

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The risk of deadly danger is something police officers face every day, and today, a trio of men who've killed suspects while defending themselves talked about their experience at Cameron University.

They were the featured speakers at a forum called "The Hidden Effects on Police Officers". Each man recounted his particular experience, explaining what was going through their mind at the critical moment, and how they dealt with the aftermath and the backlash.

Their message was quite timely, after the killing of a fellow officer on Monday.  They hoped by sharing their experience they can give people a new perspective on what it's like to have to make a split-second decision to save their own life by taking another.

Sergeant Jason Burgess has been a police officer since 2003. On December 1st of 2014, he was involved in a shootout during a traffic stop.  He was wounded, before he and his partner shot the suspect to death

"I went to work every single day up to that point and I do still think of the worst scenario possible and it's always planted in the back of my mind something like that could happen," Burgess said.

Burgess said while it was tough to recover from the incident he never gave up.

"The easy thing to do with any thing you try is to quit, it's a choice and the easiest one to do to quit . The hardest thing to do is to continue to train to accomplish a goal and I didn't want anyone to control my destiny," said Burgess.

Back in 1992, Greg Giltner was training a police recruit when a man attacked them with a knife.  He killed the attacker, but even though his response was justified, he was suddenly criticized for shooting to kill--even from his own family.
"My wife asked me that same question. Couldn't you have just shot the knife out of his hand? I'm not John Wayne. I can't do the gun spinning and all that. As stressful as it was that night No... we are trained to shoot center mass that what stops it, we are trained to stop the threat," Giltner.

In 2014 Sergeant Cody Koelsch he was shot twice during a kidnapping call. While Koelsch didn't speak much about the incident because it will go to trial soon he says that incident haunts him to this day but it doesn't get in the way of his call to duty

"I still enjoy doing it, I still enjoy going in but you gotta be able to prepared for that emotional roller coaster cause any day it can be really awesome or it could be a job that you hate," Koelsch said.

Giltner spent 26 years with the Oklahoma City Police Department, and was aware of the common thread he and the other two officers shared.  So, they decided to try and turn that into a positive, by sharing their stories and how it impacted them. Officers also said  they will continue to speak at schools and other events about the hidden affects on Police officers.

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