The Personal Side of Policing

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Title: The Personal Side of Policing Submitted by: Travis Hance Course: CJS210 Due Date: November 11th, 2011 Instructor: Jason Garner

The Personal Side of Policing

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There are a number of stressors that officers must face within a law enforcement career. Feelings of separation from the community, lack of support from both outside and within the department, and even fatigue generated by the type of work are all serious issues that generate stress upon police officers.

How does stress affect the policing community? The issue of stress is one that will not be easily addressed in the near future. There are a number of studies and tests that potential officers endure in an attempt to choose candidates who are worthy of the public’s trust. Civil service standards are a commonly seen theme, and involve basic math, grammar, and problem solving tests. While these are commendable, they cannot address the most basic question of character that defines a good law enforcement officer. How does he or she react under life threatening pressure? Can he or she think the situation through under stress and apply good judgment that reflects well upon themselves, the department, and the community? “It is generally accepted by the public that policing is one of the most stressful occupations in contemporary society.” (Grant & Terry, Pearson Education, 2008, Page 229) The solution then lies within each departments initial training program. By pairing seasoned and experienced officers with new recruits, a department can begin to truly measure whether the recruit can handle the stresses of the position.

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How does police culture support police officers in evolving job situations? Police culture serves to bond fellow officers together through shared adversity. “The nature of police work can bring with it many serious stressors requiring complex coping mechanisms that themselves can contribute to the maintenance of police culture.” (Grant & Terry, Pearson Education, 2008, Page 235) Because of the various types of stress which officers encounter, the brotherhood that is self generated serves as a support. While it does promote an ‘us verses them’ mentality in many cases, it also serves as a source of relief. The stresses of the job can be more easily handled when you feel that someone else understands how ridiculous some of the situations you are forced to handle are. Therefore, as job situations evolve, the departments that support officers with backup and resources see more effective and positive results.

What resources exist to help officers handle stress? Education and training remain some of the most influential factors in handling stress. “There are two categories of occupational stress: eustress (stress that is normal and good, even providing on-the-job motivation) and distress (stress that is outside of the normal range and very harmful over time).” (Grant & Terry, Pearson Education, 2008, Page 229-230) These concepts were taught within the Academy that I attended, and help the potential officer understand that the vast majority of problems can be handled if they are put within the right perspective. In addition, most departments have specialists either within the department, or on call to help officers through stressful and traumatic events.

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References

A: Law Enforcement in the 21st Century, Second Edition, by Heath B. Grant and Karen J. Terry. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc., Page 229

B: Law Enforcement in the 21st Century, Second Edition, by Heath B. Grant and Karen J. Terry. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc., Page 235

C: Law Enforcement in the 21st Century, Second Edition, by Heath B. Grant and Karen J. Terry. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc., Page 229-230