The Toughest Job: Casualty Notification


Out of all the work police officers and first responders perform, one job stands out as possibly the most difficult one they face.

That most difficult duty consists of telling family members their loved one has died.

Members of the Wheeling Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving know all too well the issues those officers face.  At a recent session at The Highlands, the group sought to ensure local first responders and police receive continuing education training they need — on how to notify family members with compassion.

Chapter President Jody Miller explained, “These officers don’t want to do these notifications.  So, when they do have to, we are trying to present them with the proper tools, the respect that they need.  When you enter in, you know, a person’s home, you want to be on their level.  Try to prepare them and just be genuine and compassionate.”

Miller went on to say her the motivation to bring this training to our area began with her work with MADD.  As she came into contact with people outside our local area, she heard stories on how officers delivered notification of their loved one’s death. Some told Miller they received notice of their loved one’s death through a business card posted on their front door.

“I was treated with great dignity and respect,” Miller said of her personal experience with police officers notifying her of her daughter’s condition after a 2008 car crash.  “The officers were very genuine,” she continued.  “I wanted the training for our law enforcement, so that maybe they get the tools they need when they have to do a notification.   Nobody wants to give that kind of news to anybody.”

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