AJ 53 –Police Field Operations Chapter 14 – Officer Survival and Stress Reduction
Hazardous Duty • Law Enforcement is potentially very dangerous work • Each and every contact could be fatal! • High-risk situations, arrests, etc. • Most officers stay very safe due to… • Extensive Training • Mental & Physical Preparation • Crisis-Management Skills • Sometimes Stress is the greatest enemy!
Officer Survival Skills • Must be ever alert, but not paranoid • Situational-Awareness is key to survival • Play the “Crisis-Rehearsal Game” • Refer to list on pages 475-476 • “Routine” calls/contacts often most dangerous • May let down your guard • Not expecting trouble • Self-preservation is key to helping others!
Rules of Officer Survival • Complacency Kills! • Expect the unexpected • Watch the Hands! • Most likely source of danger • Use Proper Handcuffing/Search Techniques! • Expect resistance/Expect to find weapons • Never Give Up! • Will to survive is huge advantage • Train! Train! Train! • As if your life depended on it, because it does!
Stressors in Police Work • Unsuitable Personality • Not everyone has what it takes • Disillusionment • The job is not what you expected • Isolation • From friends, family, etc. • Exposure to Death and Violence • May become routine part of the job
Stressors (continued) • Fear • Natural/healthy response (not = cowardice!) • Frustration and Anger • Dealing with belligerent/disrespectful people • Helplessness/Sympathy for Others • Efforts to help not always successful • Inner Conflict • Fear, use of force, unethical practices
Stressors (continued) • Bureaucratic/Organizational Problems • Budget restrictions, equipment, resources • Lack of communication, leadership/decisions • Lack of recognition for efforts • Limited Opportunities for Advancement • Lateral/Promotional, Unfair process • Over-worked • Insufficient staffing for workload • Under-worked • Can lead to boredom
Dealing with the Stress • Pre-Employment Research • Take classes, ask questions, investigate individual departments • Positive Family Relationships • Maintain open lines of communication! • Off-Duty Interests and Activities • Sports, hobbies, creative outlets…
Critical Incident De-Briefing • Officers likely to encounter very dangerous/traumatic situations • Accidents, murders, rapes, molestations… • No shame in feeling the effects of emotional trauma • May sometimes have delayed onset • PTSD • Many Departments require some type of post-traumatic intervention • Request it if not offered!