Police Psychology: Be the Solution, Not the Cause
by Lt. Jason Childers, Texas
We frequently hear about how stressful police work is, and the sacrifices we make in the service of our community is an oft-repeated narrative in police circles. The jerks we deal with on the street, the trauma of violent incidents, rotating shifts, the state of hypervigilance, concerns of personal safety and missed family time are all considered as sources of stress inherent to the job. These shared difficulties help to draw us together as a law enforcement family, but one factor consistently overlooked is that we are one of the main sources of our own problems. The cop staring back at you in the mirror may have more to do with causing job related stress than anything dealt with on the street. The good news is, the cop staring back at you in the mirror can also be part of the solution, especially if you’re a supervisor.
How was life when you entered the academy compared to how things are going today? With stringent entry-level standards in policing, most police officers begin their careers in excellent physical and mental health. Along the way, many officers develop signs and symptoms of stress which include poor job performance, sleep disturbances, marital discord, domestic violence, PTSD, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide. You’ve likely been through some of this yourself, or you’ve seen others deal with it.
But where does all of this come from?