If you ever ask a child what he wants to be when he grows up, a possible answer will be a policeman. To kids it looks like an exciting job. They get to wear cool uniforms and drive cars with flashing lights. They also get to have a gun and handcuffs. They are able to give out parking tickets and put people in jail. They are intimidating and people fear them. It looks like a glorifying job. Kids look up to it and think of all the power they could have if they would become a policeman. They don’t think about all the scary and stressful components of being a policeman. Being a policeman or any part of the law enforcement involves much more than flying down the freeway and writing out speeding tickets. There are many dangerous aspects to it. Situations can arise that are extremely risky: car accidents, shooting incidents and life-threatening conditions. In reality, these occupations consist of many hardships and stressful components that can affect one’s physical and psychological wellbeing (Rivers, 1993).
In a normal environment, being a policeman looks like a pretty simple job. Nothing dramatic seems to happen so the cops don’t look too busy. But actually, cops are often exposed to traumatic incidences, which are many times life-threatening. Consequently, they may experience some reactions due to the disturbing events (Rivers, 1993). According to Rivers (1993), recent studies show that around eighty-five percent of emergency personnel that were “involved in traumatic incidents have experienced traumatic stress reactions at some time.” These reactions don’t necessarily last for a long time, but sometimes they can go on for months (Rivers, 1993). Most occupations though, don’t result in traumatic stress reactions. All of a sudden, being part of law enforcement doesn’t seem so simple anymore.
There was a study done on the people involved with the rescue/recovery work after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center. The study compared the occurrence and risk factors of “current probable posttraumatic stress disorder across different occupations” that were part of it. It is reported that compared to other emergency personnel, police had a lower occurrence of psychological distress. There are many reasons given for this. One possibility is that police are less likely to report symptoms of psychological distress because they don’t want to be judged as incapable of performing their job responsibilities (Perrin, DiGrande, Wheeler, Thorpe, 2007). The policemen have to act tough for the sake of their job even if inside they are truly feeling psychologically distressed. Working at the site of the World Trade Center after it was attacked was a traumatizing experience. The study shows though, that it didn’t increase the risk of post traumatic stress disorder in policemen; they were previously exposed to trauma during their daily jobs which desensitized them (Perrin, DiGrande, Wheeler, Thorpe, 2007).
Reaching the point of desensitization to such horrors...