Friederich Nietzsche wrote, “Whoever fights monsters should seek to it that in the process he does not become a monster”. This aptly applies to police officers who face unexpected and potentially dangerous situations every day. Police officers are confronted with destructive and negative behavior on a regular basis. Law enforcement is one of the most stressful and demanding professions in the United States. Characteristics of police work are stressful because a situation can change at any time. An FBI report shows that approximately twelve out of every one hundred or 60,000 police officers are assaulted each year (Stevens, p. 587). Combined with many other factors,
Stress is defined as “the wear and tear our bodies and minds experience as we react to physiological, psychological and environmental changes throughout our lives” (Stevens). Hans Selye, the researcher who coined the term stress, There are two types of stress, eustress, which is the positive or good stress, and distress, which is the negative or bad stress. Stress is a part of everyday life and everyone reacts differently to situations that are similar. because our bodies are different, mentally and physically. Law enforcement officers are no different and face more stress than other people on the account of some of the unique, circumstances they are challenged with.
There are many different types of stressors related to police work. Those include; critical incidents, general work stress, family stress, gender stress and organizational stress (Stevens). Police officers experience critical incidents on a regular basis. A critical incident is defined as an event that “falls outside expected operational parameters and officers’ mental models are unable to make sense of and adapt to the novel, challenging circumstances that ensue” (Paton, 2008). Incidents are critical when they are beyond an officer’s control or beliefs and could include natural disasters, mass homicides,
General stressors deal with the basic day-to-day situations the officer experiences. General stressors are not as crucial as critical incidents, but can be if not dealt with over a long period of time. Some examples of general work stressors most commonly cited by police officers that cause stress are: paperwork, public disrespect, shift work, death notifications, domestic violence calls, or frustration with the courts (National Institute of Justice Journal, 2000).
Organizational stress affects many officers but is not as obvious as other stressors that take place. Police departments vary in size and resources, in spite of this, most organizational structures of departments follow a hierachial bureaucracy. Organizational stressors may include
Women account for 14.3 percent of the law enforcement population (Swanson, Territo, & W, 2008, p. 559). Female officers are challenged with stressors identical to male officers’. Nonetheless, it is thought that female officers face higher levels of...