Stress and law enforcement Essay

This essay has a total of 1141 words and 5 pages.

stress and law enforcement

Management and Dealing with Stress in Officers



It is important that law enforcement officers are able to handle stress and build his or
her zone of stability. Officers have a ready-made support system in each other. They
better understand the special problems and feelings that come with the job that friends
and family members don't. That doesn't necessarily mean that this relationship with their
fellow officers will cure all. Sometimes, because of the "macho" image that police
officers uphold, they will give back negative feedback in a situation where an officer
needs comfort. For example, an officer shoots someone in the line of duty and is having an
emotional struggle with it, and a fellow officer (who thinks he is supporting that
officer) makes a comment like, "Good job, that dirt bag deserves it." In a situation like
that, a fellow officer feels worse and more stressed. It is very important for management,
whether police or correctional, to make sure that they can properly help out their
officers when needed. There are many things that happen on the streets and in prison that
can severely effect an officer. It is only with a good management system and staff that
officers will have the proper support to move on.

A major stressor is when a law enforcement officer must deal with death. No one is
mentally or emotionally prepared to deal with death. When a law enforcement officer has to
notify the next of kin, they must pass through stages of notification. The first stage is
to prepare by creating a self-protecting sense of social distance for the officer. An
experienced officer will be more concerned with containing the emotions of the recipient
rather than their concern for how they will cope. The next stage is the delivery. It only
takes a few seconds to deliver the news, and the officer will use their badge, uniform,
and the formality of the delivery as a way to protect him/herself from this personal
situation (Looney & Windsor 1982). Dealing with the pain that you see in other people is a
major adjustment. It will take time and experience for a law enforcement officer to cope
with this aspect of the job.

The most traumatic event in a law enforcement officer's job is dealing emotionally with
the involvement in a shutting incident. Officers may suffer from posttraumatic stress
reactions due to a shooting incident. It is estimated that one-third of officers have a
mild reaction, one-third have a moderate reaction, and one-third have a severe reaction
when involved in a shooting incident (Solomon 1988). Even if the officer has a good mental
preparation and a solid zone of stability, other factors such as the degree of the threat
to the officer's life (including wounds), amount of warning before the shooting, how long
the danger persists, the security of the officer in his/her judgment to shoot, who the
deceased person is, the administrative support he/she receives, and how the media treats
the situation, all effect how mild, moderate, or severe the reaction will be. The
long-term effects vary from person to person. Some may suffer from flashbacks, sleep
disturbances, nightmares, depression, fearfulness, emotional withdrawal from family and
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