When LaMaurice Gardner finishes his day job as a Veterans Affairs psychologist, his work day may not be over. He just might get a call in the middle of the night to respond to a barricaded gunman or a suicidal subject. Gardner is also a police psychologist with several law enforcement agencies in the Detroit area and a reserve Lt. Deputy and SWAT tactical officer with the county sheriff’s department. He also teaches at two police academies, and maintains a part-time clinical private practice.
“My day job is routine, as I provide psychological services to veterans, who certainly deserve it. However, my role as a police psychologist is anything but routine,” he explains.
Gardner has police training in critical incident stress debriefings, hostage negotiations, and special weapons and tactics that relate to his clinical expertise in suicide intervention, psychopathology, post-traumatic stress disorder, and workplace violence.
His police duties originated from his private practice, where he first treated officers. “I enjoyed working with the police, so I put myself through the police academy and began working as a reserve officer.” The more he got involved, the more he wanted to learn.
Gardner has been shot at twice, but downplays the violence. “The officer’s job is to serve and protect society…. My job is to serve and protect the officers.” On one occasion he talked someone out of jumping off a bridge, and on another call he convinced a subject to surrender after being barricaded in a car with an AK-47 rifle. He said dealing with the shooting or death of a police officer, or a failed child rescue, constitute his most difficult assignments.
Gardner would like to see expansion in the field of police psychology. “Law enforcement is a profession that is in dire need of more clinical resources,” he said.