Public safety officers, by the nature of their job, are required to face danger and risk their lives in the performance of their job. Police officers may be under a considerable amount of stress working the street (Daderman & Colli, 2014).
They are subject to violence and aggression and often under pressure to quickly make critical decisions (Swanson, Territo, & Taylor, 2017).
While dealing with the administration of a law enforcement agency may be difficult, it does not put the officer’s life at risk, most conflicts are not physical, and typically no one is hurt or killed in the process of dealing with agency administration.
Organizational stress comes from situations such as lack of support, under-compensation, poor public perception, being overworked, or frustration with the outcomes of the criminal justice system (Daderman & Colli, 2014).
Imagine having to shoot and kill someone while on duty. That may indeed be the most severe stressor that an officer can experience or perhaps being physically attacked or being in a crime scene of a tragically harmed child (Daderman & Colli, 2014). According to a 1995 Police Stress Survey, killing someone in the line of duty was ranked as the number one stressor for a police officer followed by inadequate department support at number eight (Swanson, Territo, Taylor, 2017).
As an officer climbs the ranks, they may experience more administrative stressors, but for police officers who work on the street, their work remains more stressful. To help reduce work-related stress police administration can help ensure officers are satisfied with their jobs overall.
While some aspects of the job are indeed incredibly stressful, others are extremely rewarding (Swanson, et. al., 2017). Administrators can help ensure that officers have what they need to be successful on the job and make sure they are professionally trained and that they are appreciated for their work. Administration can also create support groups where officers can go to express their stress and frustrations and receive the help and tools, they need to relieve stress. These support groups can also include a section in their training about stress management and provide officers with methods to lower their stress levels.
Law enforcement agencies need to also help police officers to recognize stress by providing them with information about stress. One of the most common things that the administration provides for police officers is an employee assistance program or an EAP (Swanson, et. al., 2017). Many agencies have policies in place to ensure that these types of services are provided. Officers must have these services available. Without them many turn to other methods to cope with the stress of their jobs such as alcohol or drug abuse. Some take their stress out on their loved ones in the form of domestic violence. Some even commit suicide. The administration must do everything possible to ensure that those whom they hire to work as police officers are not only able to do their job, but able to handle the stress that comes along with it.
Dåderman, A., & Colli, D. (2014). The significance of the sense of coherence for various coping resources in stress situations used by police officers in on-the-beat service. International Journal Of Occupational Medicine & Environmental Health, 27(1), 3-15. doi:10.2478/s13382-014-0227-2
Swanson, C. R., Territo, L., & Taylor, R. W. (2017). Police administration: Structures, processes, and behaviors. Boston: Pearson Education.
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