Is Preserving a Police Officer's Career More Important Than Their Mental Health?
If you watch our show closely, you'll realize it's not the medical treatments that make Private Practice different than other shows on television; rather, it's the ethical debates surrounding the myriad decisions our doctors need to make every week.
In this week's episode, Sheldon's friend DETECTIVE PRICE asks him for the favor of doing a psych evaluation on AARON, a young police officer who has just shot and killed an unarmed criminal in the line of duty. Aaron and Detective Price maintain that the man Aaron shot appeared to be reaching for a gun, and Aaron reacted in self-defense. Both men are in a hurry to put the incident to rest and get Aaron back to work. Despite the pressure from Detective Price to sign off on Aaron's stability, Sheldon follows his intuition and requests more time with Aaron before giving him a clean bill of health.
Torn, Sheldon looks to Violet to be a sounding board for his concern. Violet makes the point that even though Detective Price and Aaron feel that Sheldon pushing the issue would be detrimental to Aaron's career, it could end up being much worse for Aaron if Sheldon helped to send him back out into the field before he was mentally ready. This conundrum brings us to this week's ethical debate:
Is it worth compromising an officer's career in order to protect their mental health?
Sheldon's dilemma stems from something much larger than just whether or not Aaron was right to fire his weapon. Today's society is quick to label "problem officers" for reacting with excessive force, an action that results in the officer losing their job and, in some cases, being sent to prison. Even if the victim is, as was the case with Aaron's incident, a dangerous menace to society, it doesn't detract from the fact that the officer's action was technically unwarranted. For Detective Price to want to protect Aaron from being kicked off the force, or worse, getting jail time is noble, but a police officer being sent back to work with untreated post traumatic stress could be equally detrimental in other ways. If untreated, post traumatic stress can lead to a number of debilitating symptoms such as anxiety disorders, abuse, drug addictions, even suicide.
In the end, Aaron cracks and admits to Sheldon that his eagerness to return to work stems from a need to keep his mind off of the fact that he's haunted by the face of the man he killed. Aaron goes on to reveal that the root of his damage is that the man never actually made a move for his weapon â€“ Aaron reacted too quickly out of fear. In the end, Sheldon makes the call in favor of Aaron's long term well being, not his career, and Aaron is forbidden to return to work until Sheldon determines he's really ready.
Do you think Sheldon made the right decision?
In This Photo: Sheldon Wallace