The hidden Blog Tour: Guest Post by Emma Kavanagh – The Psychology of Police Shootings

HIDDEN cover image

HIDDEN cover image

Today, I’m thrilled that the CTG blog is playing host to Emma Kavanagh’s hidden blog tour. With a PhD in Psychology, and a career working as a police and military psychologist, training firearms officers, command staff and military personnel how to handle extreme situations, Emma’s used her expert knowledge to create hidden – a gritty, tense, page-turner of a book that will be published in hardback on 23rd April.

Here’s what the blurb says: “He’s watching. A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently. Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarty is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman – before it’s too late.

She’s waiting. To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety – both for her, and her young niece who’s been recently admitted. She’s heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks.”

Now, it’s over to Emma to find out more about The Psychology of Police Shootings – Attentional Spotlighting …

Imagine for a moment that you are walking through a crowded room. Your senses are assaulted with a cacophony of noise, voices, music, the scraping of a chair on tile. There is food cooking somewhere – you know because you can smell it. And that smell makes your stomach growl, the sound of it vanishing into the chaos that surrounds you.

Then you see something. A flash of metal.

You stare at it.

It can’t be.

A figure moves in front of you, but you don’t see who it is or what they’re doing, because all of your attention is focused on that flash of metal. You bob your head until you can find it again, your heart pounding. You tell yourself that it cannot possibly be.

Then you see it and your mouth goes dry.

He has a gun.

Once you have seen it, once your brain has run through identification options in order to positively identify that this thing in front of you is in fact a weapon, your adrenaline will kick in. The fight or flight reaction taking effect. Whatever else unfolds around you, your attention will be trapped, caught on the hook that is the weapon – the thing that could kill you.

Author Emma Kavanagh (c) Matthew Jones

Author Emma Kavanagh (c) Matthew Jones

It makes sense, doesn’t it? That evolution should design us to pay attention to things that can present a danger to us. We only have so many cognitive resources, and so when something threatening appears in our environment, we often experience what is known as attentional spotlighting – the focus on one particular object with the exclusion of everything else.

Now, imagine what this will mean for a firearms officer. We train them to look for weapons within their environment. Especially guns. A gun can kill them, not to mention the innocent civilians that surround them. BUT! Once they have spotted a gun, their next job is to keep their attention as open as possible. In other words, we’re trying to force them to fight back against the teachings of evolution. Because when your attention is focused on the gun alone, you may not see the child that is running towards you, directly into the line of fire. You may not see that there is another gun, this one closer, its owner with their hand on the grip.

We do this with training, by putting officers in high-stress situations and teaching them to countermand their own natural instincts. We train these officers over and over again, so that, when their lives are threatened, they are able to perform in a way that will save their own lives, and those of others.

A massive thank you to Emma Kavanagh for joining us today and for giving a glimpse into this specialist area of training.

You can follow Emma on Twitter @EmmaLK and for a sneaky peak at hidden hop over to Dead Good Books to read an extract …

And be sure to drop by next week to read our full review of hidden.

Also, make sure that you check out all the other fabulous tour stops taking place as part of the blog tour:

Hidden Blog Tour

2 thoughts on “The hidden Blog Tour: Guest Post by Emma Kavanagh – The Psychology of Police Shootings

  1. suekrekorian says:

    Sorry to have arrived late at the party: my scheduled post for the tour was gobbled up by the glitchy interwebs and my broken laptop. My post is up now. Hidden really is an excellent story, and this is a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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