While it is common that active participation in the trauma is not attended to as a possible etiological stressor for PTSD, the case of police who shoot in the line of duty is the exception that proves the rule. It is readily admitted that police get PTSD from such incidents, and it is a particular kind of PTSD that is worse than what comes from being shot at. This has been clearly asserted in several studies (Carson, 1982; Loo, 1986; Mann & Neece, 1990; Manolias & Hyatt-Williams, 1993; Martin, McKean, & Vetkamp, 1986; Neilson, 1981; Stratton, Parker, & Snibbe, 1984).
In this case, the blame for the officer having to shoot is placed with the criminal(s) who created the traumatic situation. The officer's traumatic symptoms are viewed as a sign of virtue and sacrifice for being a good officer. In contrast to the soldier, the police officer is treated as someone who naturally would find shooting someone to be repulsive. Unlike military action, there is no social interference in admitting to it and sympathizing with the officer accordingly. The attitude is one of sympathy toward the officer who was put in a situation in which it was necessary to shoot.
The officer is seen as already being a victim because the trauma was bad enough to make shooting necessary. Shooting is to be avoided if at all possible; therefore, if it happens to a good officer doing his or her duty, acknowledging psychological difficulties is no insult. Unlike the soldier, who is expected to be fierce in battle, the idea of psychological difficulties for the police officer is a