Law enforcement officials in Salt Lake County got a private screening Thursday of a new documentary that looks at what happens to police officers in the aftermath of a shooting.
The film Officer Involved is a series of first-person interviews with police officers across the country who have shot suspects in the line of duty.
Patrick Shaver is an active-duty police officer in the state of Georgia. He’s also director of the film, which he started producing in 2013.
“Officer-involved shootings for the most part are not cut and dry,” Shaver says. “They are not this side or this side. What I like to tell people is there is this truth and there is this truth and the actual truth is somewhere in the middle.”
The film notes the overwhelming majority of police officers will never use a firearm in the line of duty. So when it happens, Shaver says officers usually experience trauma, face an investigation and sometimes the wrath of public perception.
“In the long run, people will turn the page, and they will move on and there will be another story in the media,” Shaver says. “But for that officer, who is in that story, they’re not going to get to turn the page. They made a decision, right or wrong, that they’ve got to live with for the rest of their lives.”
Unified Police Lieutenant Lex Bell has been involved in more than one shooting on the job. Now as a public information officer for UPD, Bell says he realizes how important it is to build a cooperative relationship with media.
“What we release and how we release it can very much affect how that is perceived by the public, how the media perceives it and also how it affects that officer,” Bell says.
Bell says the film could help the public better understand what officers go through, but also help officers who have gone through this experience.