Stress Management in a Law Enforcement Agency

Stress Management in a Law Enforcement Agency

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The direction that a law enforcement administration takes in setting standards and goals for dealing with stress within the department will have an impact on the officers in which they manage. In most cases, stress reduction for the department that begins with the highest levels of the administration.

Training, talking, and the policies of the department are sometimes a viewed as a necessary evil by officers, but when used effectively, the benefits, and knowledge obtained in these setting, will reduce duplication of the tactics for the reduction of stress that were non productive in the past, and will allow management to harness each of the individuals personal strengths, to meet stress reducing objectives. In today’s high-performance work environment, traditional skills of command must be combined with influence skills, and persuasion strategies for this type of success in creating a less stressful workplace. Focus must be applied on larger patterns of leadership effectiveness for stress reduction to be an open talking point, and not marred in officer criticism, and fear. It is important for law enforcement administration, to take the time to address concerns, and gather information for their own experiences, to reduce unneeded stress within the profession. This will allow administration to make better personnel decisions, and make management of a stressful situation more effective, thus reducing stress on themselves, and the officers below them, while in turn demonstrating the team concept.

Often new management creates stress. This can be due to the implantation of a new policy, or could be one of an adversarial nature, because someone views the new supervisor as either a transitional situation, and using the position, and the employees as a stepping stone, or maybe they were passed over for the role, or feel the knowledge base is inferior. Make no mistake we all have a job to do, and we have all had missions, and objections to complete in a certain manner in which we felt could be handled differently. Sometimes when asked for an explanation, it’s given, sometimes not. In each case we must decipher the goal, and plan for the implementation of completion, which with out clear directions can create stress.

Some of the more detrimental consequences of stress in a law enforcement department that has no policy or program for officers to freely communicate stress related concerns are the liability factors for both the department, and the officer in the field.

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This can include; unethical behavior, excessive use of force, and can lead to excessive discipline, and retention problems, civil litigation, domestic problems, often leading to divorce or separation, complicating an already strained, and stressful situation. Each year, considerably more officers commit suicide than are murdered. Many times, these suicides are a result of professional destruction from an officer’s failure to deal with a stressful or unethical act in which they were personally or summarily involved, and can be tied to the agencies stress reduction measures. When these stress related events occur they drain an organization, both mentally, and financially, and have long-term reputation effects, which in many cases, stigmatizing an agency forever.

Works Cited

Sewell, James D., Territo, Leonard. Stress Management in Law Enforcement 2nd ed. Retrieved on July 20, 2011 from
Shaw, Clayton. Health Professions of Physical Therapy from the
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Retrieved on July 20, 2011 from
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