Stress Among Law Enforcement Personnel


Research has identified work-related stress as a major challenge affecting employee performance and productivity. The occurrence of burnout makes it impossible for workers to engage one another, interact, and focus on physical health outcomes. The occupation of police officers compels them to work in environments and solve issues that are stressful in nature. These attributes are associated with negative physical, emotional, and mental health. Just like in any other sector, the law enforcement field requires that the officers are able to manage anxiety and engage in work life balance. Unfortunately, the level of stress among police officers has continued to increase. This essay, therefore, seeks to offer succinct answers to this question: Explain the major causes of stress for law enforcement personnel and the impact the stress may have on the professional and personal life of officers?

Major Causes of Stress

Stress remains a common challenge many police officers face in their daily activities. In a study by Tuttle et al. (2019), it occurred that the profession of law enforcement exposed workers in the sector to dangerous events and experiences that had the potential to affect their experiences. For instance, they were the ones allowed to respond to incidents of shootings and murder in an effort to offer the much needed stress. This requirement means that majority of officers would be at risk of increased chances of physical harm (Saunders et al., 2019). In some cases, police officers should respond to individuals who are dangerous and armed, such as criminals (Talavera-Velasco et al., 2018). They will be required to complete similar tasks regularly without adequate room for rest. This analysis means that the nature of police work is directly associated with increased levels of burnout and stress.

Past investigators have shed some light on how this profession increases chances for stress. In his work, (Xavier, 2019) observed that around 7-19 percent of officers in active duty had reported some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This health issue was as a result of the negative experiences such professionals witnessed, such as deaths and horrific accident scenes (Xavier, 2019). In the same investigation, Xavier (2019) argued that women working as officers had higher chances of reporting PTSD in comparison with them. The number of PTSD patients would also increase tremendously with experiences of physical harm (Tuttle et al., 2019). Such an outcome could be attributed to women’s natural ways of experiencing or responding to trauma. This knowledge was appropriate for shaping policy and guiding stakeholders to provide evidence-based and timely support.

Psychological stress is common in different occupations and affects people’s ability to pursue their goals. Pinki and Pal (2020) observed that many officers reported cases of psychological stress due to the requirement to support victims. Some of the beneficiaries identified in the study included individuals who had been raped, attacked by criminals, or physically assaulted (Talavera-Velasco et al., 2018). These officers were able to analyze the recorded situation and respond empathically, thereby experiencing increased levels of psychological disturbance. Additionally, Saunders et al. (2019) revealed that many officers were required by their standards of practice to conduct investigations and gather evidence from different crime scenes. These expectations compelled them to work in demanding and dangerous environments. These norms in police work remained a causal factor for increased stress levels.

Members of public expect officers to remain involved and offer timely responses in the event of an attack. In most cases, citizens would pressurize these professionals and demand answers whenever an incident occurs. The established agencies and government institutions tend to file pressure on these officers when they want some answers or outcomes. These trends and the scrutiny from various quarters can make police officers stressed and incapable of performing their duties more efficiently (Saunders et al., 2019). In another report, Pinki and Pal (2020) revealed that most of the people affected by specific occurrences or crimes blamed the police directly for their ineptitude and inability to provide security. Most of the officers would then start to blame themselves, a malpractice that triggered additional levels of stress.

The working environment of a given employee would determine his or her willingness to complete tasks and deliver timely results. In different parts of the world, some police officers tend to lack the necessary support mechanisms and environments that can empower them to offer the much needed services. For example, Pinki and Pal (2020) reveal that the nature of police work and the possession of various weapons discourage policymakers from proposing additional support to them. This gap explains why many police departments and institutions lack proper mechanisms for empowering workers, helping them pursue their goals, and guiding them to seek counseling. The absence of these crucial resources has impacted negatively on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of many officers.

Modern families have evolved in such a way that members live together, share their experiences, and engage in desirable activities that support their common goals. Unfortunately, Tuttle et al. (2019) observed that some officers were required to work in regions whereby they found it hard to interact with their relatives and family members. The emerging physical distance was another possible reason for increased levels of stress (Pinki & Pal, 2020). Without proper arrangements from the relevant authorities, most of these workers found it hard to overcome burnout. The possible outcome was that majority of them reported increased cases of PTSD and depressive disorder. This challenge was also worsened by the fact that many people expected such officers to remain strong and pursue their goals irrespective of their personal problems.

Impact on Professional and Personal Life

People in different occupations expect to benefit from their careers, be contented with their professions, and achieve personal goals in life. However, the presence of stress affects most of the goals and discourages victims from pursuing them. In the workplace, police officers interact with each other and engage in activities that will deliver the intended objectives. Unfortunately, a person who is suffering from work-related stress will become disoriented and unable to collaborate with members of his or her team. Queirós et al. (2020) support this idea by indicating that “psychological suffering among police officers can be expressed to others through disengagement or cynical behavior, or impact on the self in the form of depression” (p. 17). In the work, the authors go further to reveal that the affected individuals could eventually choose suicide.

Police officers battling stress will become uncooperative and unproductive in their respective positions. Without proper guidance and support, the professionals will remain disoriented and fail to engage in career advancement programs (Tuttle et al., 2019). Such officers might choose to quit and pursue other goals in life. Such an outcome will affect the overall effectiveness of the sector and make it hard for the remaining officers to deliver the much needed security (Tuttle et al., 2019). In another study, Talavera-Velasco et al. (2018) revealed that increasing stress levels among police officers was linked to increased cases of insecurity. This outcome was possible since majority of the officers would be unwilling to respond to criminal scenes more effectively or swiftly. Under such scenarios, the affected police officers would not contribute to the development or success of the policing sector.

A holistic view guides investigators to study police officers as citizens who ought to succeed in their careers while at the same time realizing their personal goals in life. This approach could help shed more light on how challenges stemming from the workplace could result in disoriented personal experiences. The occurrence of stress in an officer’s life appears to impact his or her professional life. When this problem emerges, chances are high that the individual will have a troubled personal life. The nature of police work encourages officers to apply violence and authority to enforce an arrest or control protesters. With the emerging stress, such individuals might begin to apply the same strategy when dealing with their personal challenges. According to Talavera-Velasco et al. (2018), police officers had higher chances of responding to domestic issues violently. They would only realize the intensity of their actions after injuring or maiming a close family member (Demou et al., 2020). These issues explain why many stressed officers will tend to engage in violent behaviors in their homes.

The connection between a police officer’s career and personality is an area that many researchers continue to examine. For example, Tuttle et al. (2019) observed that the emergence of stress associated with police work triggered new personalities in many officers. Some of them became assertive and less analytical when solving domestic issues. Some were seen to adapt police values in other areas of life, such as decision-making and communication. This trend affected their personalities and ability to relate positively with others. In the event of depression, such officers lost most of their former friends and colleagues. This outcome could trigger their stress levels and eventually result in PTSD or mood changes (Tuttle et al., 2019). These developments explained why chances of domestic conflicts increased with any form of workplace-related stress.

The response mechanisms for dealing with stress among police officers tend to be inappropriate. For instance, many troubled individuals in the sector were observed to engage in binge drinking, gambling, and abuse of drugs. They did so because the management had failed to implement proper stress coping initiatives. Those who turn to alcoholism eventually quit their jobs or get demoted. These outcomes impact their professional and personal lives negatively (Talavera-Velasco et al., 2018). Such individuals will find it impossible to focus on their future career aims or pursue their personal goals. The absence of proper strategies to help these officers is directly linked to the nature of this challenge.

The financial implications of stress among police officers have featured prominently in different works. For example, Demou et al. (2020) reveal that individuals affected by stress might squander their resources and eventually disorient the lives of their family members. The officers might eventually sink deeper into poverty and find it hard to provide for tier children. From these investigations, numerous lessons are evident that managers in different police departments need to take seriously (Tuttle et al., 2019). Specifically, proper support systems and approaches will help officers seek psychosocial support, admit their stress levels, and consider evidence-based ideas for coping.

Because of the nature of these problems, police officers who lack proper support due to the presence of stress find it hard to achieve their objectives. Some of the married officers might suffer the consequences of divorce and financial losses. The affected victims might eventually be expelled from their work stations if they are not able to deliver. These realities show conclusively that stress remains a major occupational predicament many police officers continue to face (Saunders et al., 2019). Due to the negative implications of stress on police officers’ professional and personal lives, it becomes necessary for the relevant authorities to offer additional support systems.


The completed study has demonstrated that police officers encounter challenging situations that contribute to increased stress levels. These professionals respond to dangerous scenes, complete investigations involving criminal acts, are at risk of physical threat, support traumatized victims, and lack proper support systems. Increased stress affects these officers’ initiatives aimed at achieving both personal and professional goals. The officers will turn to gambling, alcoholism, and dangerous behaviors, thereby increasing chances of developing PTSD and running into financial difficulties. These issues explain why there is a need for different departments to implement proper mechanisms and approaches to help most of these officers in order to achieve their maximum potential.


Demou, E., Hale, H., & Hunt, K. (2020). Understanding the mental health and wellbeing needs of police officers and staff in Scotland. Police Practice and Research, 21(6), 702-716. Web.

Pinki, P. S., & Pal, S. (2020). Occupational stress and work-family conflict among police. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, 8(4), 327-335. Web.

Queirós, C., Passos, P., Bártolo, A., Marques, A. J., da Silva, C. F., & Pereira, A. (2020). Burnout and stress measurement in police officers: Literature review and a study with the operational police stress questionnaire. Frontiers in Psychology, 11(1), 1-23. Web.

Saunders, J., Kotzias, V., & Ramchand, R. (2019). Contemporary police stress: The impact of the evolving socio-political context. Actual Problems of Economics and Law, 13(3), 35-52. Web.

Talavera-Velasco, B., Luceño-Moreno, L., Martín García, J., & Vázquez-Estévez, D. (2018). DECORE-21: Assessment of occupational stress in police. Confirmatory factor analysis of the original model. PLoS ONE, 13(10), e0205028. Web.

Tuttle, B. M., Stancel, K., Russo, C., Koskelainen, M., & Papazoglou, K. (2019). Police moral injury, compassion fatigue, and compassion satisfaction: A brief report. Salus Journal, 7(1), 42-57. Web.

Xavier, P. (2019). Gender differences in police stress, coping and burnout in India. International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering, 8(2S4), 673-676. Web.

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