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Stress and the Police Officer, second edition.

Stress and the Police Officer, second edition, by Katherine W. Ellison, Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Illinois, 2004.

It is hard to believe that over 20 years have passed since the publication of Dr. Katherine Ellison's first edition of Stress and the Police Officer. That pioneer work, written with Lieutenant John Genz of the New Jersey State Police, appeared shortly before the FBI's first National Symposium on Police Psychological Services and documented the fledgling study of stress in law enforcement. It has served countless students and professionals seeking to understand this newly recognized phenomenon.

While her new book is a significant rewrite of its predecessor, Dr. Ellison makes a consistent point in both: "Research on police stress has not kept pace with the research on occupational stress in general. Much remains to be done." On the other hand, her most recent work will add to the knowledge of any administrator, police psychologist, or student of law enforcement. It is extremely well organized and well researched, with two appendices that add to the impact of this text. One, "Resources, Tips, and Gimmicks," identifies useful information for anyone wishing to explore the topic of police stress. A second, a detailed bibliography, provides extensive references for the use of the reader.

This work, even more than the first edition, is user-friendly and avoids psychological jargon. It easily explains the nature and typical response of an individual to stress while focusing particularly on the nature of stress in law enforcement and unique stressors experienced by special groups within the profession, including civilian personnel and ethnic and racial minority, female, and gay and lesbian officers. She clearly has articulated methods by which anyone connected with law enforcement easily can recognize stress reactions and, more important, has identified practical stress management techniques for the individual.

Two chapters in the book prove especially compelling. First, Dr. Ellison discusses organizational strategies for stress management, emphasizing that police departments must be concerned about the quality of management and the reduction of stress. Within this chapter, as well as throughout the book, she offers fair and honest criticism of stress-causing practices seen in many agencies and within the law enforcement culture itself, but outlines clear steps that any department can take to mitigate organizationally caused stress.

Second, she emphasizes the importance of training within an agency. As she notes, "For a program of stress awareness and management to be even minimally effective, it must include more extensive and comprehensive training. It must focus on changes at the organizational and supervisory level in addition to programs for individuals in the lower ranks." Her training chapter, in fact, suggests actions by which an agency could better prepare its personnel to handle stress and, as a result, reduce stress within the agency itself.

Dr. Ellison is a recognized expert in police psychology who has continually "kept up with the times." Her new text provides further evidence of both her dedication to the enhancement of police service and her recognition that this country's law enforcement officers deserve to be treated well.

Reviewed by James D. Sewell, Ph.D.

Assistant Commissioner

Florida Department of Law Enforcement
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Author:Sewell, James D.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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