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Stress Management in Law enforcement.

by Leonard Territo and James D. Sewell, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina, 1999.

How police officers manage stress will impact the success on the job, as well as all facets of their relationships with their families and friends. Stress affects individuals in many ways, and the authors of Stress Management in Law Enforcement present a complete picture, including prominent research in coping strategies, to afford a comprehensive, proactive approach to stress management.

The text is organized into eight sections, starting with the psychological, physiological, and social consequences of stress. The sections that follow focus on coping behaviors, suicide and its impact on the family, trauma and vicarious traumatization. The last two parts discuss the psychological services in law enforcement that can assist an officer overwhelmed with stress and how the police organization can proactively address stress issues to make a "win-win" situation for both the police officer and the police department.

One suicide is too many. Through the compilation of articles on police suicide, the authors note that officer suicide now may occur at twice the rate as in the past. This type of information on suicide either was not previously collected or frequently misclassified as accidental or undetermined deaths. Law enforcement agencies no longer can pretend that the problem does not exist; they must break the wall of silence by developing preventive programs to address suicide, as suggested in the articles in this section.

The authors discuss another important area - the emotional trauma from critical incidents inflicted daily on officers. It is no longer a question of whether an officer might be involved in a critical incident; it is a certainty that it will happen daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the position the officer holds at any given time. Previously, police departments defined critical incidents as shooting incidents. Today, the term includes any sudden, powerful event that can overwhelm the usual coping skills of an individual. This section identifies approaches to alleviate and mitigate these stressors. These strategies, which help police officers from falling victim to burnout, include preincident stress education, implementation of a peer support program, use of critical incident stress debriefings, and the development of an employee assistance program. Many police officers still subscribe to John Wayne's macho image and reluctantly accept any psychological services; however, the police culture is moving toward acceptance of a peer-based program where the officers speak from experience and help others. The common theme throughout the articles from noted authorities in the filed of police stress emphasizes that accepting assistance when faced with traumatic events on the job does not represent a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Police management must recognize stress as part of the job, and more departments should proactively implement programs to address stress. Currently, approximately 25 percent of police departments use some sort of psychological services. This book offers an excellent collection of articles to assist police administrators, law enforcement officers, and academicians in developing a comprehensive program to reduce stress in police departments.

Reviewed by

Special Agent Vincent J. McNally

Certified Employee Assistance Professional

Unit Chief, Employee Assistance Program

FBI Headquarters, Washington DC
COPYRIGHT 1999 Federal Bureau of Investigation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:McNally, Vincent J.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1999
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