IMPROVING RESILIENCE AMONG LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
Miller, Brian S.
McGuire, Mollie R.
Miller, Patrick E.
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Law enforcement officers’ exposure to stress exacts a toll on them. Agencies have programs designed to mitigate stress and assist officers after a critical incident, but research shows pre-exposure to stressors may help officers better mitigate stress. The goal of this thesis was to examine stress management and psychological resiliency tools that are most promising in reducing stress and building resilience in law enforcement, starting with a review of the effects of chronic and acute stress, post-traumatic stress disorder in officers, and health-related problems associated with stress. This thesis examined wellness and employee assistance programs, critical incident stress management, and psychological first aid, programs all designed to address stress-related problems that occur after critical incidents. Specific attention in this thesis was paid to preventative tactics to reduce stress such as mindfulness and controlled breathing techniques, the use of meditation and yoga, and visualization techniques to prepare officers for potentially stressful events—techniques that could have positive effects in reducing stress-related mental and physical health problems experienced by officers. Based on this review, recommendations to improve wellness programs include incorporating mindfulness techniques, tactical psychological training, and the better use of technology in both ongoing and preventative stress care.
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