Policing And Stress Essay, Research Paper
Policing and stress go hand and hand. I feel as tough many police officers can bring the stress on themselves. Throughout my essay I will talk about stress in policing, community policing and why it would decrease stress, and finally I would talk about how I feel about stress in policing.
“Several studies have shown that stress levels are considerably higher among police officers than they are in the general population. As law enforcement professionals try to adapt to stressful experiences, they frequently develop habits that are personally and professionally destructive. Some studies indicate that diminished physical and emotional health, including increased risk for divorce and suicide, occur as a result of officers’ cumulative job stress.”
“The cumulative impact of stress may lead a depressed officer to a state of “learned helplessness.” This concept was developed by Seligman (1975) through a series of experiments that used dogs as subjects. Seligman exposed the dogs to conditions under which they could not alleviate the stress encountered. As a result, the dogs became passive and accepting of stressful circumstances. Seligman paralleled the dogs’ state of learned helplessness to the human state of depression. ”
“Police stress, in many cases, falls into the category of “presumptive disorders” those illnesses or disabilities that are presumed, rather than proven, to be present in the individual because they are not visible or validated by objective testing methods. Stress is a psychological condition and is the direct result of how we have learned to cope; it is a specific emotional and/or bodily response that is triggered by our perception of signals in our environment or in our thinking. ”
Not all stress is undesirable. In fact, the demanding and pressured environment of policing leads us all to experience stress at some level usually in the form of tension. It is only when our internal defense system begins to break down because of our ineffective coping methods that stress becomes undesirable. At that point, it’s necessary to re-evaluate how we think, act and react to our world.
“Selye (1956, 1974) pointed out that a person’s level of subjective stress depends not so much on what he or she does for a living as much as it does on what happens to him or her through the process of living. Perceptions are crucially important a point that is particularly relevant for police personnel. It is imperative that police officers learn how to effectively process their emotional tensions and to identify and accept their physical and emotional limits. ”
“With regard to the psychological effects of work stress, various researchers have found linkages to mood disturbances and in particular to depressive symptoms (Hatfield 1990, Sauter et. al. 1990). Some affected individuals complain of feeling “blah,” having no feelings or feeling anxious; the presence of a depressed mood can be inferred from the person’s facial expression and demeanor (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Officers who become depressed may also experience sleep disorders and insomnia. Most individuals experience middle insomnia (i.e., waking up during the night and having difficulty returning to sleep). Police officers may enter a repetitive cycle in which images of violence recur and escalate. With each mental representation, imagination or rehearsal, the officer imagines further potentially devastating outcomes.”
“The officer’s mental process might involve something such as:
If the suspect is at the location and has the knife, I could attempt to use my baton. If that is ineffective, or if he charges me, then I may attempt a retreat. If that fails then I may have to use deadly force.”
It is imperative that officers are trained in stress management to prevent serious psychological and/or physical consequences. This training will assist in the well-being of the officer and increase productivity and good community relations.
I believe that community policing can help on the reduction of stress in policing. In community policing the police officers can get to know the respected community in the area in which they work.
“As the struggle to reclaim our streets and neighborhoods from crime, violence and property crime continues, one lesson, repeatedly taught and frequently ignored, is apparent: law enforcement cannot do the job alone.
This is why Community-Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS) is a concept whose time has come. This movement holds tremendous promise for creating effective police/community partnerships to reclaim our communities and keep our streets safe. The COPPs approach is a better way to create safer communities with existing resources.
It mobilizes and empowers people to work with the police to effectively address crime and other social problems confronting our community. It is important to stress that Community-Oriented Policing still involves straight-forward law enforcement. It is not “soft” on crime. In fact, it is tougher on crime because it is smarter and more creative. Community input focuses police activities; and, with better information, officers are able to respond more effectively with arrests or other appropriate actions.
The Bullhead City Police Department has conducted several Community Partnership meetings through Bullhead City. These meetings allow the public a chance to spreak to Police Chief Glenn Walp and his staff. As a result of these meetings, the Police Department has instituted several projects and programs to combat the concerns of some citizens. Some of these programs are the Brush Abatement Program in the northern end of town, the Traffic Enforcement Saturation Teams (TEST) who work in specified areas identified by the public, Bicycle Patrols and DUI check points.”
I feel as though police officers create the stress for themselves. I work with Boston Police officers all the time and I can see sometimes the burnout effect that they created on themselves. I have a great friendship with all the Police Officers that I have met on one occasion I met Lenny Brown a Boston Police officer who had recently bought a brand new home in Randolf, MA. Lenny had told me that he worked his morning shift from eight A.M. to four P.M., next he came to my detail from five P.M. to eleven P.M., and then after that lenny went to a C.A.T. detail which is a construction detail in downtown Boston at the big dig from midnight to six A.M. and then had to work his day tour all over again. I can see how many officers can burn themselves out by working to much and dealing with the complications of their job. I feel as though police officers should not stress themselves out. If they need the money that?s one thing but when they buy things that may have been out of their league this causes the officers to work all the time to pay the mortgage, and the utilities, and the phone, along with a car payment which leads to them not being around and may even lead to a divorce. Stress in this country is a great problem but I feel as though it can be avoided if officers just try to keep the jobs away from their homes. Officers should not take their jobs home with them and they should also try to be home so that they can play a major role in the lives of the people in their families.
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