The pressures on police officers significantly impact their physical and mental health. Think about it. Police officers
may be expected to shoot someone, be shot at, see a partner killed, use force to resist a physical attack, rescue a battered child, participate in a high-speed chase, and inform a parent that his or her child has been killed in a traffic accident. If that isn't stressful, what is?
There are many reports on the negative impact stress can have on our lives. We must learn to manage the stress, especially when it is part of our daily lives due to the occupations we choose. The University of Buffalo (UB) conducted a long-term study that followed more than 400 police officers. Results showed that officers over the age of 40 have a higher 10-year risk of a coronary event than the national average. It went on to illustrate 72 percent of female officers and 43 percent of male officers have higher than recommended cholesterol levels, and police as a group have higher than average pulse rates and diastolic blood pressure. It also noted an increased amount of suicide. Police officers, suffering from these conditions, may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
These statistics identify the need for police departments to implement intervention programs and create opportunites for police to discuss these issues, especially for male officers. It has been suggested that in some ways female officers have a better of chance of dealing with these work related issues than their male counterparts as it is still more acceptable for woman to act upset and discuss their feelings while males often talk about stressful events but not about the fear and emotions that are associated with these events.
Researchers admit that publishing papers and conducting stress studies will not influence police departments to change overnight, but it is the first step in raising awareness and bringing this issue to the forefront so that it is addressed. Helping officers manage stress and encourage them to talk about their feelings, thus helping them remove the stigma that they are weak if they show emotional response to their situations is a step in the right direction.