Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper


Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

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First of all, stress is the body’s reaction to internal and external stimuli that interferes with the body’s normal state. It usually upsets this normal state. The stimuli that cause stress can be physical, mental, or emotional. The body has to react to stressful situations which are called the flight-or-fight response. ( ) Stress can weaken and disturb the body’s defense mechanisms and may play a role in developing hypertension, ulcers, cardiovascular disease, and maybe even cancer. ( )Stress by itself does not cause illness but it helps contribute to possible illnesses.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

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Stress can affect anyone at anytime and anyplace. What’s important to know is that stress can actually be good for you. It is only when stress reaches unimaginable levels that it hinders your progress and makes you feel frustrated and sad. When confronted with a stressful situation the human body retreats to its survival mode, known as the “fight or flight response”. It causes the release of steroids and adrenaline from various glands in the body. These hormones send our respiratory, cardio-vascular, abdominal, endocrine and nervous systems into overdrive.
Stress is caused by constant pressure, both at work and home. One important function of short-term stress is to channel our resources to deal with challenges or life threatening situations. Temporary stress gives us an extra boost in escaping danger by increasing the speed of our reactions. Police stress, however; refers to the negative pressures related to police work (Police Stress). Police Officers are under a great deal of stress on a daily basis. Types of Police stress includes: external, organizational, personal, and operational. Many factors lead to these stressors, such as; poor training, substandard equipment, poor pay, lack of opportunity, role conflict, exposure to brutality, lack of job satisfaction, fears about job competence and safety.
Adding to the stress of everyday complications in police work, you may face what is known as suicide by cop. Suicide by cop has become a fad so to speak with individuals who wish to die but can’t do it by their own hand. The stress of suicide by cop adds an additional factor to taking someone’s life. Short term effects of suicide by cops is similar to those who where in other crisis’s.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

When people experience stress the body produces amounts of adrenaline which are released into the bloodstream. Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. This release of adrenaline causes the liver to provide the body with more carbohydrates for extra energy. It also causes a quickened heartbeat and respiration, as well as increased blood pressure and respiration. ( ) At this point the body is getting prepared for extraordinary physical exertion which is not a bad thing. It can be bad if the need for this exertion does not occur. If this exertion does not occur it can cause a headache, upset stomach, irritability, and other symptoms.

Police officers face many stressful situations during their job. Most jobs have high rates of stress but it has been said that police work is the most stressful out of all the jobs. There are four categories of stress that police officers face. These four categories are external, organization, personal, and operational stress. External stress is produced by real threats and dangers. External threats happen outside of the office. Some examples of this are gun runs and other dangerous activities that take part in auto pursuits. Organizational stress is produced by elements within a quasi-military character. ( ) This stress comes from within the organization. This can be a constant adjustment of changing duties, odd working hours, working holidays, and strict discipline imposed on officers. It can also be stress from workplace conditions, the lack of influence over work activities, and workplace prejudice.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Personal stress is produced by interpersonal characteristics of being in a police organization. Interpersonal means something involving two or more people. An example of this would be difficulties getting along with other officers. Lastly, operational stress is produced by the daily need to confront with the tragedies they face. These tragedies consist of the need to deal with derelicts, criminals, mentally disturbed, mentally ill, homeless individuals, and drug addicted. It also deals with engaging in dangerous activity to protect a public when they are unappreciative. Another thing it deals with is the awareness of being legally liable for the actions they performed on duty.

There are many factors that cause stress in police work. These factors are poor training, substandard equipment, poor pay, lack of opportunity, exposure to brutality, fears about job incompetence and safety, lack of job satisfaction, lack of physical fitness, and de-personalization. ( ) There is also pressure of being on duty 24 hours a day. The police learn to cope with stress by emotionally detaching themselves from their work and the people they serve. Another factor is fatigue. Police officers work long hours and also work overtime which can cause stress and physically drain them.

There is something known as suicide by cop, which is compounding the stress problems of officers. ( ) This usually means a person wishes to die deliberately. They will put themselves in a life threatening situation and cause the officer to use deadly force against them. This usually leaves the police officer with feelings of guilt and also of being tricked into using deadly force. It can also be portrayed by the media as the deceased being the victim, which is the complete opposite.

Policing is dangerous work, and the danger lurks not on the streets alone.

The pressures of law enforcement put officers at risk for high blood pressure, insomnia, increased levels of destructive stress hormones, heart problems, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide, University at Buffalo researchers have found through a decade of studies of police officers.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

UB researchers now are carrying out one of the first large-scale investigations on how the stress of police work affects an officer’s physical and mental health, funded by a $1.75 million grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The National Institute of Justice added $750,000 to the study to measure police officer fatigue and the impact of shift work on health and performance.

John M. Violanti, Ph.D., research associate professor in UB’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, is principal researcher of the study, called the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) study.

More than 400 police officers have participated in the study to date, with the researchers aiming for 500. The clinical examination involves questionnaires on lifestyle and psychological factors such as depression and PTSD, in addition to measures of bone density and body composition, ultrasounds of brachial and carotid arteries, salivary cortisol samples and blood samples. The officers also wear a small electronic device to measure the quantity and quality of sleep throughout a typical police shift cycle.

Results from Violanti’s pilot studies have shown, among other findings, that officers over age 40 had a higher 10-year risk of a coronary event compared to average national standards; 72 percent of female officers and 43 percent of male officers, had higher-than-recommended cholesterol levels; and police officers as a group had higher-than-average pulse rates and diastolic blood pressure.

“Policing is a psychologically stressful work environment filled with danger, high demands, ambiguity in work encounters, human misery and exposure to death,” said Violanti, a 23-year veteran of the New York State Police. “We anticipate that data from this research will lead to police-department-centered interventions to reduce the risk of disease in this stressful occupation.”

Violanti and colleagues are using measures of cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” to determine if stress is associated with physiological risk factors that can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“When cortisol becomes dysregulated due to chronic stress, it opens a person to disease,” said Violanti. “The body becomes physiologically unbalanced, organs are attacked, and the immune system is compromised as well. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what stress does to us.”Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

The investigation’s two most recent studies report on the effect of shift work on stress and suicide risk in police officers, and on male/female differences in stress and possible signs of cardiovascular disease.

Results of the shift work pilot study, involving 115 randomly selected officers, showed that suicidal thoughts were higher in women working the day shift, and in men working the afternoon/night shifts. The findings appear online in the October issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Data showed that 23 percent of male and 25 percent of female officers reported more suicidal thoughts than the general population (13.5 percent). In a previous study, suicide rates were three times higher in police than in other municipal workers, Violanti found.

The findings, that in women officers working day shifts were more likely to be related to depression and suicide ideation, while in men working the afternoon or night shift was related to PTSD and depression, were surprising, said Violanti. “We thought both men and women officers would be negatively affected by midnight shifts.”

“It’s possible women may feel more uneasy and stressed in a daytime shift, where there can be more opportunity for conflict and a negative environment,” he said. “On the other hand, higher suicide ideation reported by males on the midnight shift may be accounted for in part by a stronger need to be part of the social cohesiveness associated with peers in the police organization. Working alone at night without the support of immediate backup can be stressful,” he said.

“There also is the problem of physiological disruption of circadian rhythms. Being awake all night while one should be sleeping can affect judgment and decision making. The combination of these two has a double-barreled stress effect.”

Violanti is planning to conduct a longitudinal study of the effects of shift work on officers, and has received additional funds from NIOSH to study the effects of shift work on cancer risk.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

The stress and blood vessel reactivity research found that females had higher cortisol levels upon awakening, and that levels remained high throughout the day. Normally, cortisol is highest in the morning and decreases to a low point in the evening. These constantly high cortisol levels were associated with less arterial elasticity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This study is in press in Psychiatry Research.

Violanti said these findings, once again, reflect the impact of police work on women officers. “Women police officers are probably under more stress than male officers. It’s still basically a male occupation, and women can feel socially isolated on the job. Also, most women have more home responsibilities to worry about – family, child care.”

Publishing papers and conducting studies about stress may not change police departments overnight, Violanti admits, but it is one way of getting the message out that the negative effects of stress must be acknowledged, de-stigmatized and treated.

“Intervention is necessary to help officers deal with this difficult and stressful occupation,” he said. “We want to educate them on how to survive 25 years of police work. They need to learn how to relax, how to think differently about things they experience as a cop. There is such a thing as post-traumatic growth. People can grow in a positive way and be better cops and persons after they survive the trauma of police work. That is an important message

aw enforcement officers recognize that stress is part of the profession and working conditions. In the past, police culture did not recognize stress as a problem affecting their officers. However, there is now plenty of evidence and research showing that unmanaged stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What many officers might not be aware of is the long-term effects of chronic fatigue and the relationship between stress and fatigue. Not getting enough rest and not eating properly in order to fuel the body can increase the effects of fatigue. Being fatigued on-duty causes many issues, such as poor decision making and other cognitive task difficulties.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Police officer distressed
Photo by Kevin R. Davis
When stress is preventing normal sleep times (6 to 8 hours, recommended), an officer can quickly encounter sleep deprivation. A study conducted in 2011 compared the effects of sleep deprivation to excessive drinking of alcohol and found the effects on a driver were very similar.

Both sleep deprivation and alcohol caused impaired speech, inability to balance, impaired eye-hand coordination, and falling asleep behind the wheel (Senjo, 2011). When officers are constantly fatigued after their shift, they often do not find the time to unwind, change gears, and enjoy their time off away from the job.

Effects of Fatigue on Performance
A 2012 study on police officer fatigue revealed the following alarming facts (Basińska & Wiciak, 2012). Fatigued officers:

Use more sick time.
Have difficulty managing successful personal relationships.
Have time management issues (reporting for duty on time).
Make mistakes on departmental and court paperwork.
Tend to sleep on duty (often due to rotating shiftwork).
Generate higher rates of citizen complaints for reported misconduct.
Tend to have problems communicating with supervisors and have stressful relationships with superiors.
Have problems testifying in court regarding being prepared.
Experience more accidental injuries on duty.
Early retirement (often due to burnout).
Are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed because of lack of focus and not recognizing danger signs.
Even with the current departmental manpower issues caused by the current economic times, already overworked officers continue to work double shifts, special patrol details, and second jobs. Studies have shown that fatigued officers have performance issues on and off duty. Officers are willing to sacrifice their health and safety by accepting the increase workload to provide the extra income for their families, despite the warning signs caused by working while fatigued.

It is the responsibility of elected officials and senior law enforcement officers to bring reasonable balance through policies that are supported by research. Recent studies show that police culture still supports the mentality that working more is better for your career, despite the data that chronic fatigue causes serious performance and health issues (Basińska & Wiciak, 2012; Senjo, 2011).

Health Issues with Chronic Fatigue
The research tells us that chronic fatigue affects the mental and physical health of police officers (Basińska & Wiciak, 2012; Senjo, 2011). Fatigued officers:

Have impaired judgment.
Experience weight gain or unhealthy weight loss.
Show an increase in and presence of severe mood swings.
Demonstrate impaired eye-hand coordination.
Have increased anxiety or depression.
Have increased change of substance-abuse addiction.
Show increased gastrointestinal problems (loss of appetite and/or stomach ulcers).
Have increased reports of back pain and frequent headaches.
Have increased chance of PTSD.
Demonstrate inappropriate reactions to a situation (excessive use of force).
Show increased risk of serious health problems such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Steps to Reduce Police Fatigue
The working conditions of law enforcement officers are not likely to change given the realities of the current police officer comforting officereconomy. But there are things that officers can do to control it. For example, officers can control how they choose to react to stressful incidents and must acknowledge that fatigue plays a direct role on personal stress levels. Officers will react as they have been trained when they are properly rested and alert. There are several steps that an officer can take to reduce their personal fatigue (Basińska & Wiciak, 2012; Senjo, 2011).Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Law enforcement officers can:

Plan meals and make healthy eating choices, and stop eating high-calorie fast food.
Plan vacation and downtime.
See your doctor regularly for checkups.
Share the workload and reduce the amount of overtime.
Live within your means so that “moonlighting” that second job is not necessary.
Create a realistic exercise program and form healthy habits.
Create a “Patrol Buddy” program and make time to check on each other.
Keep your civilian friends and get away from the job (no shop talk on downtime).

Stress plays a part in the lives of everyone. Some stress is not only inevitable, it can be good. For example, the physical stress of “working out” improves your cardiovascular system, and feeling pressure that causes you to study harder for an exam can improve your score. Police stress, however, refers to the negative pressures related to police work. Police officers are not superhumans. According to Gail Goolkasian and others, research shows that they are affected by their daily exposure to human indecency and pain; that dealing with a suspicious and sometimes hostile public takes its toll on them; and that the shift changes, the long periods of boredom, and the ever-present danger that are part of police work do cause serious job stress.


Dr. Hans Selye’s classic The Stress of Life describes the effect of long-term environmental threats he calls “stressors.” Dr. Selye maintains that the unrelieved effort to cope with stressors can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, digestive disorders, and headaches. Stressors in police work fall into four categories:

Stresses inherent in police work.
Stresses arising internally from police department practices and policies.
External stresses stemming from the criminal justice system and the society at large.
Internal stresses confronting individual officers.46

Police stress arises from several features of police work. Alterations in body rhythms from monthly shift rotation, for example, reduce productivity. The change from a day to a swing, or graveyard, shift not only requires biological adjustment but also complicates officers’ personal lives. Role conflicts between the job—serving the public, enforcing the law, and upholding ethical standards—and personal responsibilities as spouse, parent, and friend act as stressors. Other stressors in police work include:

• Threats to officers’ health and safety (see Figure 8.4).
• Boredom, alternating with the need for sudden alertness and mobilized energy.
• Responsibility for protecting the lives of others.
• Continual exposure to people in pain or distress.
• The need to control emotions even when provoked.
• The presence of a gun, even during off-duty hours.
• The fragmented nature of police work, with only rare opportunities to follow cases to conclusion or even to obtain feedback or follow-up information.47

Administrative policies and procedures, which officers rarely participate in formulating, can add to stress. One-officer patrol cars create anxiety and a reduced sense of safety. Internal investigation practices create the feeling of being watched and not trusted, even during off-duty hours. Officers sometimes feel they have fewer rights than the criminals they apprehend. Lack of rewards for good job performance, insufficient training, and excessive paperwork can also contribute to police stress.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

The criminal justice system creates additional stress. Court appearances interfere with police officers’ work assignments, personal time, and even sleeping schedules. Turf battles among agencies, court decisions curtailing discretion, perceived leniency of the courts, and release of offenders on bail, probation, or parole also lead to stress. Further stress arises from perceived lack of support and negative attitudes toward police from the larger society. (Most public opinion surveys, however, show strong support for and positive attitudes toward police.) Stress also stems from distorted and/or unfavorable news accounts of incidents involving police. The inaccessibility and perceived ineffectiveness of social service and rehabilitation agencies to whom officers refer individuals act as further stressors.49

Women and minority officers face additional stressors. They are more likely to face disapproval from fellow officers and from family and friends for entering police work. Supervisors, peers, and the public question women officers’ ability to handle the emotional and physical rigors of the job, even though research indicates women can do so. The need to “prove themselves” to male officers and to the public constitutes a major stressor for women officers.

Stress contributes not only to the physical disorders previously mentioned, but also to emotional problems. Some research suggests that police officers commit suicide at a higher rate than other groups. Most investigators report unusually high rates of divorce among police. Although some maintain that researchers have exaggerated the divorce rate among police, interview surveys demonstrate that police stress reduces the quality of family life. A majority of officers interviewed reported that police work inhibits nonpolice friendships, interferes with scheduling family social events, and generates a negative public image. Furthermore, they take job pressures home, and spouses worry about officers’ safety. Systematic studies do not confirm the widely held belief that police suffer from unusually high rates of alcoholism, although indirect research has established a relationship between high job stress and excessive drinking. Finally, officers interviewed cited guilt, anxiety, fear, nightmares, and insomnia following involvement in shooting incidents.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

In the past, departments either ignored officers with problems or dealt with them informally by assigning them to desk jobs. During the 1950s, some departments began to formalize their responses, usually by incorporating officer-initiated Alcoholics Anonymous groups made up exclusively of alcoholic officers. In the 1970s, departments instituted “employee assistance” programs to deal with problem officers, particularly those suffering from alcoholism. These programs have expanded into a broad range of responses to police stress. Some programs focus on physical fitness, diet, relaxation, and biofeedback to cope with stress. Others emphasize family counseling to involve spouses in reducing police stress, such as Kansas City’s Marriage Partner Program or Minnesota’s Couple Communications Program.

The stressful nature of police work is well established, and the need for meaningful and effective stress resilience training programs is becoming better understood, as it has been in the military. Police work and military service share many stress-related features: Psychological stressors connected with the mission, such as extended duty cycles and exposure to horrific scenes of death and injury, are common to both cases.1 Anger-management issues, family relationship issues, and substance abuse as the results of stress are also common to both military and police. And suicides in both the police and military now exceed deaths in the line of duty. Dr Daniel Goldfarb, a respected psychologist specializing in police stress, states that a failure to get help is a major contributor to police suicide and other stress effects.2

The US military today recognizes that unregulated response to stress can not only result in decreased operational performance, but can also increase risk for a wide range of adverse health outcomes, psychological and emotional injury, and family breakdown. As a result, all branches of the US military have moved to include selfregulation and resilience trainings in their operations.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

It has long been accepted that people in risky situations, parachutists as well as soldiers, adapt to situational stress after the first few experiences, and that training can help duplicate this process, with studies showing that experienced personnel are able to control and even use stress productively.3 An important part of what experienced personnel learn is self-awareness of their stress state and self-regulation of stress energy. Accordingly, the current Department of Defense definition of resilience is “the ability to withstand, recover, and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands.” The Stress Resilience Training System (SRTS) is completely consistent with this definition of resilience and its associated objectives.

The Stress Resilience Training System (SRTS) was developed by a team at Perceptronics Solutions, Inc (Sherman Oaks, California), including Ease Interactive, Inc (San Diego, California), and the Institute of HeartMath (Boulder Valley, California), as a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The goal was to meet the need for a self-contained, mobile, comprehensive stress resilience training program that can be used by both military and civilian populations. Usability evaluation at George Mason University (Fairfax County, Virginia)4 and initial evaluations of the SRTS by US Navy, Air Force, and Army groups have been highly positive.5 Consequently, we believed US police forces would be likewise amenable to a low-cost, validated program that could bring stress resilience training to their personnel in an easy-to-use format that is both engaging and overcomes the still-existing stigma of visits to a clinician, therapist, or counselor.

A key premise of our SRTS development has been that in addition to reducing the adverse effects of stress, a scientifically based self-regulation and resilience building program can actually enhance service members health and performance. A study conducted by Institute of HeartMath researchers showed that this can be true in police and correctional officers as well.6 The San Diego Police Department (SDPD), including its newly formed Wellness Unit headed by Captain Sarah Creighton, agreed to a multi-participant case study with 14 police personnel representing a wide range of departments. With the chief’s approval, we obtained the cooperation of the Wellness Unit in performing the case study reported here, including recruiting participants, arranging for training facilities, and assisting in data collection.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Participants were 10 male and 4 female SDPD personnel from several police specialties; 12 were police officers and 2 were police dispatchers. The participants appeared highly motivated and interested in the general implications of the study as well as in the potential benefits of the program on their health as well as professional and personal life.

All 14 participants completed the pre-study 52-item Personal and Organizational Quality Assessment (POQA) questionnaire; of these, 11 completed the post-study survey; and of the 11 post-study surveys, 10 could be reliably matched with their pre-study counterparts. Accordingly, we conducted two types of analysis: one used the entire pre and post participant data, which was used to calculate group means for the scales and subscales; the second used the matched pairs in a paired t-test analysis of the scales and subscales. The matched-pairs analysis shows that our case study group had the following characteristics:

Marital Status, well distributed among single, married, and divorced

Age Range, from early 20s to late 40s, with 50% in the 31-to-40-year age range

Employment Status, 86% were working officers, and 14% were dispatchers

Education, 80% reported “some college” or bachelor’s degrees, and 20% had master’s degrees

Hours Worked Per Week, 60% reported 41 to 50, with about 40% working 51 to 59 or more

Years at Organization, 20% reported 2 to 5, 30% reported 5 to 10, and 50% reported 10 to 20

Years at Current Job, almost evenly distributed from 0 to 6 months to 10+ years

In addition, the initial POQA data showed that as a group, these police personnel were above average in all four of the main scales—Emotional Vitality, Organizational Stress, Emotional Stress, and Physical Stress—and above average or substantially above average on all but one of the subscales. Accordingly, our case study group could be characterized as mature, emotionally stable representatives of police personnel. Nevertheless, when this group was asked at the introductory training session what stressed them, their responses reflected virtually every factor mentioned in the literature: problems with management, on-the-job dangers, lack of public appreciation, non-understanding family members, etc. It was obvious from their answers and their participation in the study that even these relatively well adjusted people desired help in dealing with stress.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper


There has been a lot of research on the negative effects of stress on people in general. I am sure you know that police work is one of the top rated professions for job stress next to air traffic controllers and dentists. A good way to start this presentation, I think, is to give a good working definition of police stress. Here it is: The feeling and desire along with the ensuing bodily effects, experienced by a person who has a strong and true longing to choke the living crap out of someone who desperately deserves it, but you can’t.

Now, while this may sound funny there is a real element of truth to it. An element of truth that says an awful lot about police work. And that is the part of the definition “……BUT YOU CAN’T”. Police work, by it’s very nature, calls for an incredible amount of restraint. Continual restraint and draining restraint. It is stressful. The demands on police officers to show even greater restraint have been increasing over the years, and so has the effects of stress on police work. With the recent attention that police suicide has received in the media there have been a number of reviews on it. Between 1934 and 1960 police suicide rates were half that of the general population. Between 1980 to the present, suicide rates in some departments almost doubled. What is the difference? You can’t choke them anymore! Street justice is all but gone. Everyone has video cameras. The media gets off on putting down cops. Politicians continue to throw new laws and restrictions for police officers that further tie their hands, and you can’t choke anyone with your hands tied! So you start to feel that you’re choking yourself.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Lets take a quick overview of police work and look at the research of what the biggest stressors are:

+ Killing someone in the line of duty.

+ Having your partner killed in the line of duty.

+ Lack of support by the department/bosses.

+ Shift work and disruption of family time/family rituals.

+ The daily grind of dealing with the stupidity of the public.

Interestingly, physical danger is ranked low on the list of stressors by police officers.

One of the worst effects of stress on police officers is of course suicide. We are becoming too familiar with police suicide, especially with the attention the media has given New York City. Twice as many police officers die by their own hand as do in the line of duty. (New York Times, 1994)

A study of 2376 Buffalo NY police officers found that, compared to the white male population police officers, there were higher mortality rates for cancer, suicide, and heart disease. The suggested reason: Higher stress levels.

Every study done points to the higher levels of stress police officers face, but what form does that stress take? With suicide there seem to be four factors:

1. Divorce. 2. Alcohol, not alcoholism. That was one of the early theories. But in actuality it was the use of alcohol right before the act to “get up the nerve”. 3. Depression. 4. A failure to get help. (Most officers who commit suicide have no history of having sought counseling).Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

All four factors are symptoms that can come from an officer’s stress levels. Police suicide is more directly related to relationship problems than to job stress. Of the last 14 suicides among the police officers in New York City, 12, or 86%, had to do with divorce or relationship breakup.

Suicide is often an impulsive act, and the handgun at the officer’s side is guaranteed to be lethal in the hands of an experienced shooter.

UB professor, John M. Violanti, Ph.D thinks the biggest reason for the high rate of police suicide is because officers think they have nowhere to go for confidential help when personal problems or job stress overwhelms them. “Police officers are more hesitant than the average citizen to get help for emotional problems. Because of their role, they mistrust many things, and they especially mistrust mental health professionals,” Violanti said. “Departments should include some sort of suicide awareness training in their stress management program.”

Police officers going through a divorce are 5 times more likely to commit suicide than that of an officer in a stable marriage. Relationship problems however, are highly related to job stress.

If we consider that officers have an important relationship with their department, we can examine the effect of that relationship gone bad. Officers who get in serious trouble on the job, suspended or facing termination, are 7 times more likely to commit suicide. (Apparently cops like their jobs better than their wives).

So we see that stress has an enormous effect on police officers lives, especially their home lives. Studies have called police work a “high risk lifestyle”. Not high risk in terms of the physical dangers of the job, but a high risk in terms of developing attitudinal problems, behavioral problems, and intimacy and relationship problems. So you learn something about the effects of police work. You learn if you ask the average cop “Hey, what’s been the scariest experience during your police career?” They will answer “My first marriage!”

The national divorce rate is 50%. All research shows police suffer a substantially higher divorce rate with estimates ranging from 60 to 75%. One of the casualties of police work is often the marriage.

Although law enforcement officers deal with stressful situations in the normal course of their duties, excessive stress on individual officers may cause them not to carry out their responsibilities. In order to keep law enforcement organizations at 100%, administrators must be able to identify the causes of dysfunctional stress on individual officers.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Much of the articles we find today on the causes of law enforcement stress, focus primarily on the factors that are personal to the individual officer. However, other researchers suggest that an officer’s ability to live with this stress is hindered by the structure and operation of the organization within which he or she works.

“Police stress” is considered by many to be an important societal problem (Cullen, et al., 1985), and police work is thought of as stressful (Kelling and Pate, 1975). Law enforcement officers must be aware of the dangers of psychological stress. Stress is the result of “demands placed on the system” and need not be harmful unless it is “mismanaged” or “present in large quantities.” However, some analysts say that occupational and life stress can cause mental and even physical problems. For example, one study of 2,300 officers in twenty-nine different police departments reported that thirty-six percent of the officers had serious marital problems, twenty-three percent had serious alcohol problems, twenty percent had serious problems with their children, and ten percent had drug problems. (Kendrix, 1989) Yet, police were well below the average in seeking [medical and] mental treatment. The “macho” image of a police officer may well keep a police officer from seeking such treatment. Law enforcement officers have significantly higher rates of health problems, premature deaths, suicides and general hospital admissions than other occupations (Richard and Fell, 1975).

Law enforcement stress has been categorized into three sections. These are: 1) stress that is internal to the law enforcement system; 2) stress that is in the law enforcement job itself; and 3) stress that is external to law enforcement.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Stress internal to the job may be found when police and correctional officers find themselves with conflicting roles. Police spend much of their time in activities not directly related to law enforcement functions, while correction officers are placed in both the role of providing “custody [and] treatment.” Law enforcement officers can develop personal conflicts by being placed in the position of having to choose between one or more contradictory goals. Such contradictions include the loyalty to fellow officers and honesty within the department.

Post Traumatic Stress

Post Traumatic Stress is a type of stress encountered at incidents that are, or perceived as, capable of causing serious injury or death. The person encountering the stress does not have to be the one whose life is threatened. This stress can also occur to witnesses. By it’s nature, Post Traumatic Stress is one of the worst types of stress a person can encounter. It is stress of a nature that is threatening to a person’s survival. The psychological and physical reactions of our mind and body to Post Traumatic Stress are at the extremes. Examples of life threatening traumas that can cause Post Traumatic Stress, in their general order of severity, include: natural disasters, serious accidents, serious accidents where a person is at fault, intentional life threatening violence by another person, life threatening trauma caused by betrayal by a trusted individual, and life threatening trauma caused by betrayal by someone you depend on for survival.

Police officers, by the nature of their jobs, can be exposed to more stress and trauma in one day than many people will experience in a considerable period of time, maybe even their entire life. Some police officers thrive on stress. They seek out incidents that most people would not care to encounter in their lifetime. Many people seek out a job in police work for this challenge and the personal rewards it provides. Overcoming stress of great magnitude can provide great personal rewards, but these jobs can and do ruin many lives.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Dr. George Everly, a noted researcher on emergency services stress, estimates that at any given time15-32% of all emergency responders will be dealing with a reaction to Post Traumatic Stress, and there is a 30-64% chance that they will have a reaction to it during their lifetime. For law enforcement working in urban areas, 20-30% of the officers will develop a reaction to Post Trauma Stress during their lifetimes. These figures are higher than the percentages for the general population (1-3%), urban adolescents (9-15%), and, surprisingly, Vietnam Veterans (15-20%).

For a variety of reasons, some of which are not known, many police officers work through Post Traumatic Stress and its affects. The impact of Post Traumatic Stress on their lives is short-lived (if they suffer from it at all). In the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), this is defined as Acute Stress Disorder. It lasts more than two days, but no longer than 4 weeks.

There are those, however, that will not be able to cope with the Post Traumatic Stress they have encountered. They may have handled many traumatic incidents without a problem, until one happens that breaks through their ability to cope. These officers will develop what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is Acute Stress Disorder that lasts more than 4 weeks. In their book on “Emergency Services Stress”, Dr. Jeff Mitchell and Dr. Grady Bray estimate that without proper Post Trauma Stress training, response, and follow-up, roughly 4% of all emergency workers will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These figures do not include those who will develop a reaction to accumulative stress, which can have affects similar to, and additive to, Post Traumatic Stress. They also do not include police officers who grew up in an urban environment and are Vietnam Veterans, of which there are more than a few. These figures also do not separate out those working patrol or traffic duties from those working specialty assignments (narcotics, vice, metro teams) from those working investigative or “inside” jobs. Uniformed assignments and certain specialty assignments place officers in positions that they will be more likely to encounter traumatic stress.

When it comes to police officers, people often think about times they’ve been pulled over or the television show ‘COPS’. Just like anything else, a person’s perception of police officers and their work depends on previous interactions with them and what they have seen in the media. What is often overlooked by the general public, are the stressors that police officers face in their field of work and how such stress can affect their personal lives. There are several cases in which researchers studied the cause and effect of work related stress and what effects there are on people in law enforcement.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper
In a study by Can, Hendy & Imbody (2013), research was done to enhance the understanding of aggression by police officers in close relationships. The researchers compared ‘models’ of aggression for police officers based on Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977). Bandura’s research focused on observational learning or modeling, which is learning that occurs through the observation of others (Santrock, 2014). They found that police officers often exhibit characteristics of aggression in regards to conflict-resolution, which had seen from their fathers and/or supervisors. These findings account for 35.5 percent of the incidence in romantic partner aggression and 59.1 percent of the incidence in police partner aggression (Can, Hendy & Imbody, 2013). Every police department should do mandatory conflict-resolution workshops for work and home, to develop non-aggressive means of conflict resolution as suggested by the researchers (Can, Hendy & Imbody, 2013).

Some short-term effects are mentally replaying the event repeatedly, disruption of sleep, irritability and detachment, being hypercritical, sensory disturbance, and hyper vigilance. Another emotion is anger towards the subject for forcing them to use deadly force against the person. Some long-term effects are vulnerability, being more protective of the family, and being less trusting of the general public. Some officers interviewed considered retiring or quitting the department after being in situation like this. Sometimes officers involved in these killings suffer from post-shooting trauma, which can ruin their careers. They usually leave the department within 7 years and in some cases may commit suicide within 5 years. ( )

There are many effects that stress has on police officers. The first is that too much stress affects health. The fact that police officers must be ready for danger at all hours causes a great amount of stress, as well as the working hours and living conditions. These all have negative effects on their health. According to A National Institute of Justice report some other consequences of being a police officer that causes stress are cynicism and suspiciousness, emotional detachment from aspects of daily life, reduced efficiency, absenteeism and early retirement, excessive aggressiveness, alcoholism and other substance abuse problems, marital or other family problems, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide. ( )There are also specific health issues such as heart attacks, ulcers, weight gain, and other health problems. An early study 2,300 police officers in 20 U.S. police departments revealed that 37% had serious marital problems, 36% had health problems, 23% had alcohol problems, 20% had problems with their children, and 10% had drug problems. ( ).Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Another issue is job-related personal change and family relationships. With officer facing tragedies it affects them personally. This could also affect the family if the officer’s personality and attitudes change. There are also a high demands and expectations from the community. The public hold police officers to very high standards and expect them to solved everything and be available all the time. The last issue is intrusion into family life. A police officer may have to bring parts of his/her job home. An example of this could be his/her gun or the fact that they have to be available 24 hours each day.

There are multiple ways in which departments deal with police stress. The first way is that they provide stress management programs to officers and to their spouses. They identify officers who are under stress and provide them counseling to help relieve the stress. They also conduct periodic screenings and training on stress management. Lastly, they provide confidential counseling services to officers and their families.

Stress can cause police officers to turn to alcohol and even suicide. Police suicide has been increasing. According to the book, every 17 hours an officers kills himself or herself. 97% of officers use their own weapons to commit the suicide. Alcohol for many officers is a way to relax after a long day, to others it is a way to cope with anxiety or depression.

When writing any formal paper, such as a term paper, the writer is expected to identify the sources of all information by citing the names of the authors and year of publication. Quotations, specific terms, and statistics must be cited by giving the author(s), year, and page number of the reference. Footnotes or endnotes are generally not used to cite references. The citations are included in the text within parentheses. The full reference is included on a “reference” page at the end of the paper.

Your paper should clearly communicate your thoughts and research findings. They represent the final product of your research, and are the basis upon which you are evaluated. Your professors will carefully read your written work. We will notice words that are misspelled; incomplete sentences; typographical errors. We will also notice papers that have been carefully written, proofread, and revised before being turned in – and we will reward those students with better grades.Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper

Good quality writing now in college will be rewarded. Good writing will likewise be rewarded on the job, and in graduate school. Criminal Justice agencies, other public sector agencies, and all private sector businesses demand good writing skills. Administrators and supervisors notice good writing, and they notice writing errors. Whether you get hired for a job may well depend on your writing ability. Whether you get promoted in a job will certainly depend on your communication skills – both oral and written communication. That is why your college professors are “picky” about writing errors. We want you to succeed: now in college, in graduate school, and later in a career. Stress Among Police Officers Essay Paper



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