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Article

Elizabeth Velazquez and Maria Hernandez

The purpose of this paper is to review current research on police officer mental health and to explore the reasons why police officers do not seek mental health treatment.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review current research on police officer mental health and to explore the reasons why police officers do not seek mental health treatment.

Design/methodology/approach

A comprehensive, systematic search of multiple academic databases (e.g. EBSCO Host) were used to identify studies conducted within the USA, identified definitions of first responders, identified the type of duty-related trauma expected by police officers, how influential stigma is amongst the police culture and what current intervention strategies are employed to assist police officer mental health wellness.

Findings

This research was conducted to identify police officer trauma-related mental health and the stigma behind seeking treatment. The research highlights job-related trauma and stress leads to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance use disorder and suicide or suicide ideation. The stigma behind seeking mental health treatment is associated with law enforcement organizations and environmental factors. Organizational factors include occupational stress characteristics such as day-to-day of the job and environmental factors such as abiding by social and law enforcement culture ideologies. Further research should be conducted to understand why law enforcing agencies and personnel are unknowingly promoting stigmas.

Originality/value

This is the most current meta-review of research examining the severity of mental health in police officers, the stigma behind acquiring treatment and innovative treatment approaches in police officer mental health. This study will provide a useful resource for those researchers interested in continuing to examine the different aspects of police officer mental health and how to potently approach innovative interventions to help law enforcement personals mental wellness thrive in a field where trauma is experienced daily.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 42 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article

Noreen Shafiq, Ioan M. Ohlsson and Paul Mathias

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the predictors of punitive attitudes towards young offenders among police officers. This included an examination of variables…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the predictors of punitive attitudes towards young offenders among police officers. This included an examination of variables such as officers’ coping styles, mental health, rank and age. It was predicted that indirect coping styles, mental health difficulties, higher age and higher rank would negatively impact on punitive attitudes towards young offenders. Officers reporting direct coping strategies, low levels of mental health difficulties, lower rank and lower age were expected to have less punitive and more rehabilitative attitudes towards young offenders.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of 83 police officers and community support officers from the UK completed standardised self-report measures.

Findings

Indirect coping strategies, high levels of mental health difficulties and high rank were all associated with more punitive attitudes, whilst age had no impact.

Research limitations/implications

Results are discussed with regard to their research and real world implications. These include an impact of these findings on the job performance, community safety, approaches to policing, and the well-being of police officers. The importance of mental well-being, direct coping and positive attitudes towards young offenders is indicated in order for police officers to employ more proactive, consistent and fair behaviour with this group, leading to less punitive outcomes for young offenders, as well as improved police-youth relations.

Originality/value

The research findings link mental health, coping styles and rank to officers’ attitudes towards young offenders, which had not been fully examined in the literature previously. Results suggest that mental well-being and direct coping styles may serve as a protective factor against the development of punitive attitudes. This highlights the importance of providing support for mental well-being, as well as training in the areas of effective coping styles and issues surrounding young offenders.

Details

Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-8794

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Article

Lesley J. Bikos

This study will provide a preliminary, general overview of Canadian police officers' perception of stigma toward mental illness in their workplace culture and its impacts.

Abstract

Purpose

This study will provide a preliminary, general overview of Canadian police officers' perception of stigma toward mental illness in their workplace culture and its impacts.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses a mixed methods approach with two nationwide datasets: a self-report survey (N = 727) and 116 semi-structured interviews with police officers from 31 police services. Results are grounded in theories of stigma, masculinities and organizational culture.

Findings

Results indicate that most officers believe stigma toward mental illness in their workplace remains, despite senior management messaging and program implementation. Reporting mental illness was often seen as high risk, both personally and professionally. Policewomen, constables and those on leave reported statistically significant higher levels of perceived stigma and risk. Features of traditional masculinity were commonly reported, influencing the way individuals viewed themselves (self-stigma) and organizational response (structural stigma). Those with lived experience reported the highest levels of self and structural stigmatization, which often negatively impacted their recovery.

Originality/value

This study strengthens our understanding of how organizational culture and structure combine to contribute to the persistent presence of stigma in some Canadian police services (with implications for male-dominated occupations generally). Gender, rank, years of service and lived experience are additional areas of limited scholarship addressed by this study. The findings have important implications for effective program and policy evaluation and development.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article

Oi Byung Park, Hyuk Im and Chongmin Na

Drawing on survey data from South Korean police officers, the purpose of this paper is to explore the mediation effects of coping self-efficacy and social support in the…

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on survey data from South Korean police officers, the purpose of this paper is to explore the mediation effects of coping self-efficacy and social support in the relationship between the impact of traumatic events and resilience. Additionally, the moderation effects were assessed to examine how this relationship varies by the state of police officersmental health.

Design/methodology/approach

Both multiple mediation and multiple group models within the structural equation modeling framework were adopted to assess the proposed mediating and moderating effects.

Findings

Traumatic events affect resilience not just directly but also indirectly through mediating factors such as coping self-efficacy and social support. These patterns are more pronounced in the high-risk mental health group than in the normal group.

Practical implications

If exposure to traumatic events were an unavoidable aspect of police work, helping officers build resilience as a general capacity to overcome stressful situations would be an effective strategy to prevent many negative consequences associated with the traumatic events. This study examined specific causal mechanisms linking the impact of traumatic events to resilience to better understand the process of developing resilience among police officers.

Originality/value

Instead of further examining the relationship between impact of traumatic events and other physical and mental outcomes, this study attempted to expand the current literature by identifying important mediating and moderating mechanisms that reduce the negative influences of traumatic events on resilience.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 41 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article

Daniela Gutschmidt and Antonio Vera

Many authors describe police culture as a relevant determinant of officers' health, policing behavior and reaction to change. Investigation of such relationships requires…

Abstract

Purpose

Many authors describe police culture as a relevant determinant of officers' health, policing behavior and reaction to change. Investigation of such relationships requires an appropriate instrument for measuring police culture.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper proposes a questionnaire containing 20 values that are characteristic of police culture (e.g. masculinity, loyalty, solidarity). In an online survey, 153 German police officers described their last workgroups in terms of how typical these values are. Besides conducting item and factor analyses, multiple regression models were tested to explore the effect of group characteristics on police culture.

Findings

A four-factor solution, comprising (1) conservative-male culture, (2) institutional pride culture, (3) team culture and (4) diligence culture, seems to fit the data best. Significant predictors of the police culture total score are percentage of male officers, average age of the group and service in a problematic district.

Research limitations/implications

Overall, the results indicate that police culture is a measurable multidimensional construct, which substantially depends on the composition and the operational area of the workgroup. A limitation of the study is the retrospective and subjective assessment of cultural values.

Originality/value

The questionnaire presented in this paper depicts the culture of police workgroups in a differentiated way and is able to detect cultural variation within the police. Future research could draw on the questionnaire to investigate determinants and consequences of police culture.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article

Laura I. Sigad

The study aims to contribute an insider's view of how members of law enforcement and their families cope with life-threatening situations.

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims to contribute an insider's view of how members of law enforcement and their families cope with life-threatening situations.

Design/methodology/approach

The study at hand is guided by a descriptive phenomenological perspective, which is utilized to describe and analyze the experiences of five police officers living under high levels of threat from criminals.

Findings

The analysis presents a multifaceted picture of the officers’ experience of threat. The findings suggest that life under extreme threat is experienced by the officers as an upheaval of identity and loss of the structure of self. Yet with the aid of various individual protective factors as well as community and systemic support, the officers are able to mentally reframe this experience of vulnerability as one of personal agency. They demonstrate acceptance of the threat as part and parcel of their professional roles, a praxis of responsibility that gives them a sense of control. Emotional strain is ever-present as the reality of the threat infiltrates their personal lives and those of their families, yet the return to their core identity as protectors rather than victims allows for a reintegration of the self and is the foundation of their emerging resilience.

Originality/value

This novel identity-focused model can serve as the basis for a heuristic for interpreting responses to risk and fostering resilience and as the conceptual foundation for the development of practical interventions designed to foster resilience in those exposed to critical and traumatic circumstances both inside and outside the police community.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

Abstract

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article

Ian Cummins

One effect of the policy of deinstitutionalisation has been to increase police contact with people, who are experiencing the effects of acute mental illness. Policy…

Abstract

One effect of the policy of deinstitutionalisation has been to increase police contact with people, who are experiencing the effects of acute mental illness. Policy documents such as Home Office circular 66/90 recognise that adults with mental health problems are especially vulnerable within the criminal justice system. The overall aim of policy is that vulnerable adults should be diverted to mental health services at the earliest opportunity unless the offence is so serious that this would not be in the public interest. However, there is little concrete evidence of the success of this policy. The result is that police officers have an increasing role to play in working with individuals experiencing acute mental health problems. In this process, custody officers have a key role to play as decision‐makers as to whether the protections that PACE (1984) offers to vulnerable adults should apply. This article is based on a small‐scale indicative research study, which examined how officers make these decisions and the training that they receive relating to mental health issues.

Details

The Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1466-8203

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Article

Luke Bonkiewicz, Alan M. Green, Kasey Moyer and Joseph Wright

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a police department's Post-Crisis Assistance Program (PCAP) for consumers who experienced a police-abated mental health crisis…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a police department's Post-Crisis Assistance Program (PCAP) for consumers who experienced a police-abated mental health crisis. The authors analyzed three questions: First, does PCAP reduce a consumer's future mental health calls for service (CFS)? Second, does PCAP reduce a consumer's odds of being arrested? Third, does PCAP reduce the odds of a consumer being taken into emergency protective custody (EPC)?

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use propensity score matching to analyze data from a sample of individuals (n=739) who experienced a police-abated mental health crisis.

Findings

The authors find that PCAP consumers generated fewer mental health CFS, were less likely to be arrested, and were less likely to be taken into EPC than non-PCAP consumers six months following a police-abated mental health crisis.

Research limitations/implications

The research only examined outcomes six months after a mental health crisis. The authors encourage future research to examine whether the benefits of PCAP persist over longer periods of time.

Practical implications

The study demonstrates that partnerships between police departments and local mental health groups can help police officers better serve citizens with mental health conditions.

Originality/Value

To the knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the impact of a PCAP for citizens experiencing police-abated mental health crises.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 37 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article

Stuart Thomas and Amy Watson

The purpose of this paper is to propose a focus for mental health training efforts to better equip officers to provide interventions and supports to help facilitate…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a focus for mental health training efforts to better equip officers to provide interventions and supports to help facilitate improved outcomes for people experiencing mental health crises.

Design/methodology/approach

A reflection on key evidence relating to mental health training programmes delivered to police, focussing on Australia, the USA and Canada.

Findings

While there are a number of similarities in the core content of mental health training programmes offered internationally, the availability and uptake of training across jurisdictions remains piecemeal and idiosyncratic. Police officers report a strong preference for hands-on experiential learning; this has immediate and direct relevance to their operational duties, and is consistent with core principles of andragogy. While all police employees require mental health training, specialised mental health training programmes should clearly be reserved for a select group of officers who volunteer after acquiring sufficient operational experience.

Research limitations/implications

Priorities should centre on measuring the effectiveness of mental health training packages and discerning the active elements associated with changes in police skills and confidence, as well as identifying elements that support improved outcomes for people who experience mental illness and who have contact with the police.

Practical implications

Police need to continue to need to seek legitimacy with respect to their guardianship role as mental health interventionists. Training should tap into practice-based wisdom. Training should be practical, applied and reinforced through wider knowledge-based learning and workplace reinforcement. Training is needed for everyone, but specialised training is not for all. Police need to focus on the partnerships and expend time, energy and resources to maintain and grow them. Specialist (and other forms of) training needs to be evaluated so we understand what works?

Originality/value

There may be opportunities to streamline the delivery of knowledge-based aspects of mental health training and focus much more on experiential learning, both in specialised training courses as well as shorter mental health awareness sessions.

Details

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-3841

Keywords

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