Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder And Departmental Mandates




Schmidt, Corey A.

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


Law enforcement officers see a lot of trauma though out their careers. They see the worst of the worst that a city has to offer. They will see tragic and horrific deaths, assaults, domestic assaults, and a multitude of child abuse cases. The officer or civilian employee will encounter trauma outside of work that is a result of family or financial issues. This long-term exposure to emotional trauma and operational stress begins to take a toll on the law enforcement officer’s psyche. There comes a time when the officer will no longer be able to cope with the stress. The officer will not seek out help due to the stigma attached to mental illness, department culture, and the fear of being viewed as weak. Law enforcement officers may begin to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs to help cope with the mental issues of the trauma. Departments should make sure all employees are able to safely and effectively perform their essential job functions. There should be services provided to help employees preempt and resolve emotional difficulties associated with acute or chronic exposure to trauma in policing or family crises. Police departments should encourage employees to seek resources to ensure their wellness, and their family’s wellness. It is important to acknowledge that stigmatization linked to “asking for help” exists within police culture. Therefore it is imperative that the department cultivates a culture of education, understanding, and acceptance, in order to create an environment in which its employees feel supported and encouraged when reaching out to access necessary services. Departments should have a policy and employee wellness and resiliency program in place, that ensures the employee and family has all the necessary tools available to him/her to get help.



Police--Mental Health, Police Psychology, Police Job Stress, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder