Policing during a global health pandemic: Exploring the stress and well-being of police and their families
This article is related directly to the 6th International Law Enforcement & Public Health (LEPH) Virtual Conference in March 2021.
Keywords:COVID-19, police mental health, police well-being, police stress
Law enforcement personnel attend critical incidents that are typically short-lived and geographically confined. However, the recent global health pandemic potentially impacts on every officer, every shift, throughout the world. This research is one of the first survey studies of stress and mental health impacts of COVID-19 on United States police and their families. The study found that the pandemic has created additional stress for police and their families, elevating stress levels in an already highly stressed population. For police officers, sources of stress were predominately associated with the fear of infecting their families and the enforcement of restrictions. The stress created by the pandemic exceeds that of other commonly experienced critical incidents in policing. The current findings indicate that police and their families expect to experience longer-term, harmful mental health impacts. This research provides important insights for police agencies, as well as those who work to support and improve the well-being of police. The pandemic is impacting now on the current stress levels of police and is likely to create a legacy that must be managed into the future.
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