Article 1:  The role of moral injury in PTSD among law enforcement officers:  a brief report

This first article discusses moral injury and the correlation to PTSD.  It further looks at how compassion fatigue effects PTSD symptoms as well. Papazoglou et al (2020) defines moral injury as the symptom of experiencing either taking some ones life, seriously injuring some one, or witnessing events that effect our moral beliefs.  The article  discusses how experiencing these events that led to Moral injury or compassion fatigue have a direct impact on the development of PTSD.  

Article 2:  Addressing moral suffering in Police work:  Theoretical Conceptualization and Counseling Implications.

This article also defines moral injury in the same manner.  However, it discusses that there are a multitude of events that can lead to moral injury for Law Enforcement officers.  Papazoglou at el (2020) report that this is still a new area of study with officers, and it is unknown at this time which events can lead to moral injury. The article discusses the taking of a life, witnessing events, or failing to prevent injury or death to another person is included in this definition (Papazoglou el al, 2020).  It further demonstrates the internal conflict that officers have to deal with when their partner or someone else is injured due to their lack of action or it goes against the belief of their partner.  I would like to share the following case  that I was directly involved in while working at Crimes Against Children (CAC).  I believe this case falls under the moral injury, failing to prevent serious injury or death to anther:

It was a Saturday evening when four of us from CAC were called out to respond to the hospital of a four-year-old boy who was going to die from injuries sustained from blunt force trauma to the head.  This case was assigned to my partner two months prior and despite her efforts as well as the Child Protect Services Investigator attempts to locate the child over a month long period they were never able to find him or his mother.   The child’s mother was on the run with him and they stayed at friends homes until this night.  When my partner realized this was her case she blamed herself for the death of this child.  The investigation revealed that the child had multiple injuries some were in the stages of healing and others were new.  After a month long investigation, we were finally able to arrest the mother for Capital Murder. Her defense attorney was the only one who knew where she was and he turned her over once the warrant was signed.   However, my partner was so distraught over his death that she left the unit despite this not being her fault.  She stated, “I never want to be in charge of another person’s life again.”  

A year later the case went to court, but the defense attorney called for a mistrial.  This occurred after my partner was on the stand and only the second officer to testify.  She broke down and stated, “It’s my fault” and burst into tears on the stand.   The defense stated this was Prosecutorial Misconduct and accused my partner and the Assistant District Attorney handling the case of colluding together to gain the sympathy of the jury.  Instead of taking the case back to court, the ADA decided to offer the mother 15 years to do and she took the deal.  However, my partner never got over this case and although she was offered a position in Homicide she refused it because once again stating that she never wants to be in charge of someone’s life.  This case destroyed the human part of her.

How are the articles similar or different?

The first article primarily focused on moral injury in the context of PTSD.  However, the second article expanded the definition of moral injury  and discussed the differences between Moral Injury, Moral Distress, and Moral Injury injury in Police work.  The article goes on to explain that officers are faced with making decisions in a very short period of time.  These decisions can and will lead to feelings of being morally wounded especially when others are injured when they hesitate or the decision is opposite of what their partner may believe should have occurred.  In the second article it gives the example of a shooting in which both partners returned fire after a suspect opened fire on them. Once the shooting stopped one of the officers rendered first aid to the suspect and began CPR.  His partner told him to just let him die after what he did to them.  However, the other officer felt a duty to assist the suspect.    Both articles acknowledge that research on moral injury and how it effects law enforcement officers is relatively new.  Furthermore, it is encouraged in both that more research is necessary as it pertains to first law enforcement. 


Papazoglou, K., Blumberg, D., Kamar, K., McIntyre-Smith, A., Koskelain, M., (2020). Addressing Moral Suffering in Police Work:  Theoretical Conceptualization and Counseling Implications.  Canadian Journal of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Vol 54, No 1.  pages 71-87.

Papazoglou, K., Blumbergg, D., Chiongbian, V., Tuttle, B., Kamar, K., Chopko, B., Milliard, B., Aukhojee, P., Koskolain, M. (2020).  The Role of Moral Injury in PTSD among Law Enforcement: A Brief Report. Frontiers in Psychology. March, Volume 11. Article 310.