Shot policewoman quits force due to stress

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A police officer shot in the stomach by an illegal immigrant announced today that she was leaving her force because of post-traumatic stress.

Pc Rachael Bown, now 27, said she still suffered flashbacks and panic attacks after being shot by Trevon Thomas while investigating a burglary in Lenton, Nottingham, in February 2006.

She needed emergency surgery and spent several days in intensive care after the bullet passed through her stomach.

Pc Bown, a trainee at the time of the shooting, went back to work after 12 months. But she could not return to frontline policing and was restricted to desk duties.

Today she said she was leaving Nottinghamshire Police.

In an open letter to the force, she said: "People think you can get over it or simply move on.

"But the reality is so very different. I have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and suffer from panic attacks, nightmares and anxiety flashbacks. I have developed phobias about hospitals and the dark.

"Being shot changes you as a person. You see things differently. You also know that no-one can ever truly understand what you are going through."

In a separate statement, her family added: "The worst day of our lives was being woken up with a knock on the door and a police officer telling us Rachael had been shot. We thought she would be safe.

"Rachael loved being a police officer and thought she would be doing that job, helping people, for the rest of her working life.

"Now she has not only had to give up her job, but her future as well. She has had to put up with so much over the last four years. The flashbacks and physical scarring will be with her forever.

"Since returning to work, Rachael has been trying to please people and has been at a desk job. But Rachael didn't join the police to sit at a desk, crunching numbers."

Julia Hodson, Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, said Pc Bown had all the attributes needed to be a police officer.

She said: "Policing is a vocation and attracts a certain calibre of person. Those who feel an overwhelming sense of wanting to serve, to help others, and believe strongly in the principles of upholding the law to protect the law-abiding majority and keep people safe. Rachael Bown is one of those people."

Thomas, then 24, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after he was convicted of attempting to murder Pc Bown on February 14, 2006.

The father-of-one, who arrived in the UK from Trinidad in February 2000, will be deported after he has served half his sentence in a British jail.