Mental Health Policy Response Program in Law Enforcement Agencies Paper Example

Paper Type:  Term paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1798 Words
Date:  2022-12-10

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Development after Major Terror Attacks and Emergency Incidents in Law Enforcement Officers: A Need for a Comprehensive Mental Health Policy Response Program in Law Enforcement Agencies

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Chapter I


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the mental and psychological conditions that individuals exposed to highly-traumatic environments are highly likely to suffer, after handling or responding to an emergency or event. Occupational lines expose some individuals to traumatic experience, meaning that once such professionals respond to the events, their coping skills and mechanisms may be limited, provoking the development of PTSD (Maguen et al., 2009). Police officers, journalists, firefighters, community health and social workers are some of the occupational groups that have a high prevalence of suffering from PTSD due to the demands and requirements of their job descriptions (Komarovskaya et al., 2014). PTSD develops after a person has been exposed or witnessed a traumatic event since the individual's psychological wellbeing becomes affected both in the short-term and in the long-term. Physical and emotional changes characterize the onset of a PTSD, justifying the need for a person working in careers that make them more prone to PTSD to seek professional medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Law enforcement officers are at the forefront to keep and maintain order in the jurisdiction in which they are posted after their training, making them highly prone to violent, traumatic, and horrific activities in their line of work (Briere & Scott, 2014). This puts them at high risk of developing PTSD symptoms. Some of the traumatic events that police officers face in their line of work include witnessing or experiencing the death of another person, constant stress on the increased risk of death, inflicting pain on other human beings by shooting or arresting, fear of being attacked, amongst others. The traumatic events surrounding their lives cause the officers' psychological wellbeing and stability to reduce, making them prone to PTSD (Papazoglou & Tuttle, 2018). Most of these traumatic events may be single occurrences like being attacked by members of the public, while in others they might be repetitive, meaning that their possibility of happening is high. The constant fear increases feelings of inadequacy in police offers, resulting in psychological disturbances.

Clinically, the prevalence of PTSD depends on the number of times that traumatic events take place in a person's life (Briere & Scott, 2014). The occupational line of a police officer is unpredictable, meaning that they have to be constantly prepared to handle different emergency situations, some of which might be stressful to them both in the short-term and in the long-term. During active service, a police officer is predominantly exposed to traumatic events because of the high frequency. Chae & Boyle (2013) and Stanley, Hom, & Joiner (2016) estimated that about 100% are traumatized more because they are sometimes forced to put their lives in line to save others. More than 19% officers commit suicide due to the pressure from their occupation and lack of a medium through which they can deal with the traumatic events that have taken place in their lives (Chae & Boyle, 2013). The special units' police department have high rates of suicide due to PTSD.

Purpose of the Study

One of the areas of interest as a researcher is to comprehend how police officers work, and how they handle the traumatic experiences they encounter in their line of work. Officers are trained in an institution that prepares them for their career and is expected to deliver quality services to the members of the public. Law enforcement officers are expected to respond to all emergency incidents that take place in their area without fail, with the assumption that they are physically, emotionally, and psychologically prepared to handle the outcomes (Neria, Nandi, & Galea, 2008; Papazoglou & Chopko, 2017). Some of the events include major terror attacks, necessitating the police officers to put their lives at danger as they protect life and prevent damage to property by containing a situation. The major terror attacks leave people injured, which the law enforcement officers are expected to assist before they can get the necessary medical attention. Officers sometimes witness the suffering and pain of casualties injured during terror attacks and emergency incidents and have to remain with the images in their minds (Briere & Scott, 2014). The purpose of this study is to identify the prevalence and development of PTSD among law enforcement officers and justify the need to implement a mental health policy program that will enable officers to deal with the traumatic events they have witnessed in their line of duty. PTSD results in mental health conditions, some of which are avoidable with the correct medical intervention.

Background of the Study

Occupational stress has affected millions of people across the world, leading to mental conditions due to exposure to traumatic events that affect their minds. Being exposed to regular traumatic events like death, damage, and casualties leads to trauma. Evil human activities like acts of terrorism have also created a channel for trauma for individuals working in occupations that demand immediate intervention to suppress the acts of violence against innocent people (Galea, Nandi, & Vlahov, 2005). Work factors necessitate some employees to be the first responders in terrorist attacks or emergency situations, requiring them to assist survivors and handle dead bodies. Law enforcement officers are first responders in terrorist attacks and emergency situations. They are expected to offer assistance to all individuals in need. After containing the emergencies or terror attacks, they lack a form of support system to help them relieve off stress, predisposing them to PTSD (Komarovskaya et al., 2014 Maguen et al., 2009). PTSD affects the quality and quantity of work that police officers are expected to perform, justifying the need to implement mental health programs in police departments that will offer a support system for all.

Problem Statement

The wellbeing and welfare of police officers have most often than not been ignored, with their psychological needs sidelined. The prevalence of PTSD among law enforcement officers is high compared to citizens who work in less demanding environments who have also experienced trauma (Berger et al., 2012). The unpredictable working environment pushes the officers to prepare for events that may have detrimental effects on their psychological wellbeing, triggering the development of PTSD symptoms. Chronic stress and suffering have not gotten the necessary attention from the law enforcement departments, increasing the number of officers that take their lives due to mental conditions, all which originated from the constant traumatic events that took place in their lives. At any emergency situation, law enforcement officers are usually the first to arrive, exposing them to personal injuries, destruction, and sometimes deaths (Galea, Nandi, & Vlahov, 2005). The pressure to reduce the number of fatalities in an emergency as well as the frequency of emergencies in the society has put the police officers at a stressful situation. The first responders are expected to act on unfamiliar grounds. The need to take care of the psychological and mental wellbeing of law enforcement officers is crucial as it enables them to cope with emergency issues they witness in their career line.

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives act as a guide for the research paper as it outlines what needs to be achieved at the end of the study. They cover the most important aspects of the study and enable a researcher to remain within the correct framework. The following are the aims and objectives of the study respectively. The aims of this research are to establish PTSD development in law enforcement officers after major terror attacks and emergency incidents as well as the need to establish a health policy program that will enable the police to handle the traumatic stress related to their line of work. Hence, the objectives of the study include:

  • To identify how PTSD develops after major terror attacks and emergency incidents among law enforcing officers
  • To determine the best strategies that law enforcement officers can handle the PTSD symptoms
  • To justify the need for establishing a comprehensive mental health policy response program in law enforcement agencies

Research Questions

The research questions for the study include:

  • What psychological risks do law enforcement officers face after their response to major terror attacks and emergency incidents?
  • How do law enforcement officers handle the post-traumatic stress developed after major terror attacks?
  • What measures have been put in place to actmanager the PTSD among law enforcement officers?

Rationale and Justification of the Study

The reasons for carrying out this research study include the need to establish the prevalence and development of PTSD among law enforcement officers as they perform their duties, as well as, the need to come up with coping mechanisms to assist the police to reduce and manage the PTSD. There is also the need to train officers to identify the symptoms of PTSD and encourage them to visit healthcare facilities to access the necessary medical attention they need to prevent PTSD from affecting their lives. Law enforcement officers ensure sanity is maintained in society as they sacrifice their lives, time, and resources to serve mankind. Their general and overall wellbeing is important as they need to live quality lives.

Chapter II

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Chapter Overview

This chapter will focus on the general overview Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) and Crisis Intervention System (CISM) as strategies adopted in the law enforcement department that enable police officers to reduce the possibility of developing PTSD in during and after their active service in their career. The understanding that law enforcement officers are human needs with psychological needs is important as it makes the management team responsible of the different departments to factor in strategies that will help policemen both in the short-term and in the long-term. This chapter will describe and justify the importance of managing or preventing PTSD on the lives of law enforcement officers. Moreover, the chapter will highlight some of the various terror attacks that have happened in the past in the United States, with the aim of evaluating the impact that such emergencies have had on the management officials.

2.2 CISM and CISD

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is a special type of strategy used in crises with the intention to offer support to individuals that have gone through a traumatic event. Physical, emotional, and psychological support is important for people that have gone through a stressful phase in their lives (Miller, 2006). CISM comprises of different steps and components that ensure the wellbeing of individuals are addressed. This intervention program produces positive results when implemented in the right way as it can be used in individuals, groups, communities, or organizations. It is common for people to be exposed to trauma once a stressful or critical incident takes place, meaning that they have a high probability of going through psychological damage (Guenthner, 2012). The CISM works by creating a pathway for natural recovery for traumati...

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Mental Health Policy Response Program in Law Enforcement Agencies Paper Example. (2022, Dec 10). Retrieved from

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