Stress Management Among Police Officers
Mamdouh Roger Jebara
Dr. Steve Roth
Stress Management Among Police Officers
The positive growth in a society is often a result of determining problems and engaging in activities that provide lasting solutions to those problems. One such problem in today’s society is the deteriorating nature of mental wellness within virtually any profession. Therefore, there is a significant need for special focus on helping society members to manage stress levels and achieve a healthier life. Among all professions, the role that law enforcement officers play in society has made them susceptible to significant stress. As an activity to provide a solution to this problem, this paper provides an in-depth discussion of the problem and outlines how action research could be used to help police officers manage stress.
According to Peterson et al. (2012, p. 5), the stress in police officers is not a recent topic in the industry. It began to take notice in the 1970s as a potential problem in law enforcement. However, in recent years and decades, Queiros et al. (2020) state that policing has become so stressful that it affects the mental and physical health of police officers as well as deter them from performing their duties effectively. The researchers give a clear relationship between stress among police officers and how the job itself can cause burnout among the officers. They explain that the nature of police work is not just stressing, but also overwhelming and tiresome, which demotivates the officers and causes burnout. To show the extent of stress as a problem in society, Crockett (2019, p. 1) explains that policing is now considered “one of the most stressful jobs in the United States” and the world at large.
While demonstrating the background and the source of stress within the law enforcement profession, most researchers turn to the roles played by police officers. These roles give a clear overview of where the stress actually comes from. First, Crocket (2019, p. 1) discusses that police officers have a duty to protect the community from offenders and respond to danger. Both of these roles have a common factor which is that police officers are constantly risking their lives to keep others safe. As a result, police officers are in constant fear of uncertainty and feel that their future is never guaranteed. Queiros et al. (2020) explain this, stating that the stress of police officers comes from knowing that the word is unpredictable, and they are bestowed with the duty to fight terrorist attacks and engage in shootouts that could occur at any time and end their lives instantly. In addition, these situations among police officers often subject them to gruesome scenes and experiences that haunt them in their personal lives.
Crocket (2019, p. 4) gives another source of stress as they need to be a role model and uphold the law while respecting the rights of citizens. To police officers, these different roles often conflict, and there are times when citizens are not happy with police officers. Queiros et al. (2020) explain that these conflicts often lead “citizens to criticize police officers”. In most cases, such criticism is not fair treatment to people who have dedicated their lives to protecting the wellbeing of the citizens. As a result, police officers fight emotions such as anger and experience stress while trying to deflect the criticism they do not deserve (Edwards et al., 2021). A perfect example of such cases is provided by Stogner (2020), where the police faced backlash from citizens while trying to enforce curfews and other restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The problem of stress among police officers is a significant problem because it affects society as much as it affects the police officers and their departments. To the officers, Purba and Demou (2019) explain that stress results in poor mental health. On the other hand, Queiros et al. (2020) specify “depression, anxiety, and suicide” as some of the effects of stress among police officers. Patterson et al. (2012) also add “ulcers, heart attacks, headaches, and stomachaches” to the list of problems that could result to stress in police officers. To society, such psychological and physical defects among police officers reduce their competency in work; hence they are less effective in protecting society and solving crimes. The severity of these problems necessitates the kind of research discussed in this paper, whose aim is to identify ways to evaluate stress among police officers and manage the stress.
Problem Statement and Research Question.
Stress has become a significant challenge in the justice system, especially among police officers who have to deal with stressful situations and empower the law through methods that often result in backlash from the people they serve. While much effort has been put into addressing psychological problems such as stress all over the world, the increase in stress among police officers escalates the threat to the sustainability of the police force and the safety of all citizens. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct this study and evaluate the best methods to assess and manage stress among police officers. In order to solve this problem, the best question for the study is “How to manage stress among police officers.”
How Action Research Can Answer the Research Question
Action research involves solving a problem by collecting, analyzing, and critically deducing actions that could solve the problem. It is a continuous way of improving a community or a group of people by always identifying a problem and creating more efficient ways for the group to improve its operations (Craig, 2009). This method is an effective way of identifying solutions that could help manage stress among police officers because it enables the researcher, who is a police officer, to interact with colleagues and gather information on methods that have proven effective in managing their stress. This would be done through interviews and observations while the police officers continue performing their duties.
After collecting the data, the researcher would use recommended action research methods to perform a detailed analysis of the responses given by the officers and other members of the police force and identify trends that highlight effective ways of stress management. The researcher would then rank the most effective ways of managing stress among police officers and present them to decision-makers for review and implementation. Through these steps, action research can help solve the question of ways of managing stress in police officers. It will have given possible answers to the questions which improve the effectiveness of law enforcement.
Although psychological problems such as stress affect people in all occupations, policing is one of the professionals that has seen a significant rise in stress problems worldwide. Research shows that this problem among police officers results from their demanding jobs. For instance, police officers face dangerous situations which increase the risk of their lives. Again, the different roles police officers play in law enforcement and maintaining peace often led to criticism from the public, which become a source of stress. The problem is significant because it leads to health problems among the officers and increases insecurity within the society. As a result, it is essential to conduct research on the best ways to manage stress among police officers and keep society safe. Such research can be achieved through action research which guides researchers to collect data on the problem, analyze the data and come up with possible solutions.
Craig, D. V. (2009). Action Research Essentials. Wiley.
Crockett, C. (2019). Stress Management Treatments among Police Departments (Doctoral dissertation, Walden University).
Edwards, K. L., Eaton-Stull, Y. M., & Kuehn, S. (2021). Police Officer Stress and Coping in a Stress-Awareness Era. Police Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.11771098611120984162
Patterson, G. T., Chung, I. W., & Swan, P. G. (2012). The effects of stress management interventions among police officers and recruits. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 8(1), 1-54. https://doi.org/10.4073/csr.2012.7
Purba, A., & Demou, E. (2019). The relationship between organisational stressors and mental wellbeing within police officers: a systematic review. BMC public health, 19(1), 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7609-0
Stogner, J., Miller, B. L., & McLean, K. (2020). Police Stress, Mental Health, and Resiliency during the COVID-19 Pandemic. American journal of criminal justice : AJCJ, 1–13. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-020-09548-y
Queirós, C., Passos, F., Bártolo, A., Marques, A. J., da Silva, C. F., & Pereira, A. (2020). Burnout and Stress Measurement in Police Officers: Literature Review and a Study With the Operational Police Stress Questionnaire. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 587. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00587