In the society, the existence of law enforcers is essential in the maintenance of peace and order. The law enforcers are also tasked in the prevention of crime by using every means that entails physical, mental, and emotional strength. During the commission of crime, they are the very first person risking their life in saving the victims and catching the criminals as well. Moreover, during calamities, they are also in the front line to rescue victims and save properties that are in the verge of destruction.
Their forces are also sought during evacuations and distribution of help to areas affected by calamities. In essence, the law enforcers are mandated to be of service to anyone and to the nation at any time. Due to their tough job, law enforcers are required to be brave and be prepared every time. However, their job exposes their health to risk also. Stress in Law Enforcement Enforcing laws can be stressful. Their function is also complicated. In carrying out their duties, they are required to exercise prudent discretion (Siegel and Senna, 2005, p. 23).
In addition, they should be careful in employing violence and be prepared at all times in countering violence employed against them. Moreover, their job isolates them from the society and at the same time makes their family as their second priority. All of these can be a stressor to law enforcers. Furthermore, according to research, law enforcers are considered the most stressful occupation that most resulted to high rates of suicide, divorce, abuse f alcohol and drugs, and other health and emotional problems (Bartol and Bartol, 2004, p. 48).
Stressor in law enforcement can be categorized into four. The first one is personal life troubles. One of the most problems encountered by law enforcers is marital issue. Other Because law enforcers spend most of their time on their duty, their responsibility in their own family are compromised. The communication between the spouses is slowed down (Wisotzki, 2007,p. 273). In addition, due to the exposure of the law enforcement to conflicts, they have tendencies of frightening their children by their passive coolness or angry attacks (Wisotzki, 2007, p. 73).
Moreover, law enforcers may experience “nightmares, regressive behavior, lack of emotion, anxiety and aggressive and inappropriate outbursts” (Wisotzki, 2007, p. 273). Another personal related stress in health problem, addiction, pressures among peer groups, helplessness, and depression (Bartol and Bartol, 2004, p. 50). This further includes discrimination, sexual harassment, and lack of accomplishment (Bartol and Bartol,2004, p. 50). These factors are potential in affecting social life of law enforcers and thereby causing stress.
The second stressor is the pressures in the work. Part of being a law enforcer is entering buildings that are dark and unfamiliar to them which can create fear and exposes them to real threat. Law enforcers also respond to weapons call, pursue law breakers at a high speed, and prison inmate disturbances which are actually dangerous and pose real threat (Wisotzki, 2007, p. 273). In addition, other pressure in their job is their exposure to situations that requires exertion of force, discretion, and making critical decision.
They are also responsible in saving and protecting those in need or victims and dealing with aggressive people (Bartol and Bartol, 2004, p49). These duties and responsibilities of the law enforcers inevitably expose them to death, pain, and distress that require emotional control (Bartol and Bartol, 2004, p49). Additionally, they also experience stress in role conflicts when they act as law enforcer, social worker, counselor, or as servant (Bartol and Bartol,2004, p. 49). Another stressful job of law enforcers is carrying out undercover duties or raids of illegal establishment.
All of the above stated poses threat to life of the law enforcers and their worry as to their safety is also vital in stimulating stress. The third stressor is organization related. In exchange of their effort in fulfilling their dangerous duties, the law enforcers are also hopeful of positive rewards from their department. A low compensation, too much paper works, slow promotion, discriminatory rules, and limited opportunity for improvement are among factors that causes stress to law enforcers.
This also includes changing schedules, working for long hours, and strict rules and procedures (Wisotzki, 2007, p. 274). Moreover, insufficiency of training, inadequacy of equipments, inconsistency of enforcement of rules, and poor supervision are also counted as stressor in the organization (Bartol and Bartol, 2004, p. 50). Significantly, night shifts or overwork that is required on law enforcers usually brings detriments t health and social responsibility of the law enforcer. This is so because the eating and sleeping habit of the police officers is changed and ruined.
In addition, time that should be spent with family is utilized in work or rest. On the other hand, slow promotional programs can be interfered with politics that jeopardizes the career of dedicated law enforcers. The fourth stressor is external stress which refers to “officer’s frustrations with the court, prosecutor, criminal justice process, correctional system, media, and the public attitude as a whole” (Bartol and Bartol, 2004, p. 49). Aside from the duties of the police officers related t crime prevention and rescuing victims, they also appear in courts.
For some, the extra duty of appearing in court for testifying or obtaining warrants consumes a considerable time. Moreover, when they are not satisfied with the decision of the court, it creates frustration that causes stress. The media, on the other hand in a stressor when they meddle too much with the investigation or when they criticize police activities based on their unfair judgment (Walker and Katz, 2005, p. 179). From the above stated, law enforcing can really be considered as a stressful job. Their duty is not only concentrated to one but is in wide range and in scope.
There is also pressure upon them because the public entrusts their safety and peace and order of the place to the law enforcers. Managing Stress in Law Enforcement In order that law enforcers would be productive, the stress should be addressed by helping them deal with it. Management can help decrease stress by developing career growth, career security, and specifying jobs of the law enforcers (Blau, 1994, p. 195). Shifting in schedule;es should also be done wisely by giving rest time. Other stress management depends on the law enforcers by developing positive behavior.
One is by being open minded in flexible with the changes in work. It is also helpful in exerting time for exercise and maintaining a healthy living habit. Such includes having enough sleep, relaxing the mind, and involvement with community activities. Furthermore, the management may also offer free counseling and trainings to law enforcers specifically on addressing their stress (Bailey, 1995, p. 742). Stress management also includes goal setting, financial planning, and time management (Bailey, 1995, p. 742).
In order to effectively address the stress of the law enforcers, the management should study the stressors enumerated earlier and take measures to deal with some if not all of the enumerated. In some department, they encourage diet information and proper relaxation as part of their stress management training (Miller, 2006, p. 89). However, the effectiveness of managing the stress depends upon the individual and on his own personal lifestyle. Conclusion Enforcing law and ensuring safety and peace and order in the society is a tough job.
It also requires courage, intelligence, and time from the law enforcers. Their duties have shown to have potential effect on their personal and social life. In addition, they are also exposed to numerous stressors present in their workplace, by nature of their job, and from different people around them. Having an important role in the society, they should be given attention by lessening the stressors in the law enforcement. Furthermore, in order to be useful and productive players in the society, their well being should be given priority.