Stress is a term used by many, is somewhat misunderstood, and often used to describe a negative condition or emotional state. People experience various forms of stress at home, work, in social settings, and when engaged in activities to simply have fun, such as playing sports. Police officer's experience stresses the same as others, but also in ways much different than the average citizen. The dangers, violence, and tragedy seen by officers result in added levels of stress not experienced by the general population.
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What is Stress? Stress is not a new phenomenon; it has been experienced throughout history. Stress is a biological response to some stimulus. Fear, panic, anger, tragedy, and even something as simple as being competitive can cause it. Stress can result in the competitiveness needed to succeed in business, achieve an education, foster social relationships, and win at sports. Is stress bad or good?
It is both. The proper level of stress can benefit people in daily living. Well, what is bad stress and what is good stress? Good stress is stress that you can manage. The stress of competing in athletic contests often works in your favor by stimulating performance. In police officers, stress can make the difference between injury or death, and going home at the end of the shift.
Police work, by its very nature, calls for an incredible amount of continual stress. The demands on police officers to show greater restraint has been increasing over the years has increased the effects of stress on police work. The police organization is very important in the lives of its officers and often creates stress unwittingly.
Orders and regulations tend to sound oppressive in their pronouncements when they don't need to. Poor communication causes chiefs and officers as much grief as anything. In short, the organization needs to remove its own problems before pointing at individual officers and putting all the blame on them creating stress.
If we take a quick overview of police work and look at the research we can see what are some the biggest stresses. Having you partner killed in the line of duty, lack of support by the department/bosses, shiftwork and disruption of family time/family rituals and the daily grind of dealing with the stupidity of the public (Adams 399).