N O V 2 0 1 7 D E C
There are many factors that come into play in defining a long, successful career in law enforcement. As a matter of fact, there aren’t too many professions that demand more of a person than those who carry a gun and wear a badge. There are those intangibles that we all think of, such as honesty, integrity, character and physical/psychological well-being. These areas are all considered when hiring prospective candidates. However, there is no sure-fire way to predict a rookie officer’s staying power.
tually anyone. Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had. It is a process of individuation through a structured system with gradual discovery of personal and unique abilities. Several studies have shown that fifty percent of the ability to utilize resiliency comes from par- ents, or those that had a direct impact on a child’s upbringing. From this, it can be concluded that roughly half of one’s ability to practice resiliency is engrained at an early age. The other determin- ing factor is what is learned through teaching and training. So, yes, we can learn to be resilient as well. An example of this could be learned from the American Psychological Association’s (APA) “Ten Ways to Build Resilience” : 1. To maintain good relationships with close family members, friends and others; 2. To avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems; 3. To accept circumstances that cannot be changed; 4. To develop realistic goals and move towards them; 5. To take decisive actions in adverse situations; 6. To look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss; 7. To develop self-confidence; 8. To keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context; 9. To maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizing what is wished; 10. To take care of one's mind and body, exercising regularly, paying attention to one's own needs and feelings.
G ranted, some officers will leave law en- forcement for various reasons, such as higher paying jobs, better hours or location. Then there are the officers who leave because of job related stress, which, most of the time, spills over into their personal lives, disrupting and corroding the family unit. Key factors that will always speak to an officers’ successful career over the long haul, is their ability to practice re- silience, the psychological hardiness they possess and self-efficacy to follow through with commit- ment and determination. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has become a household term within our military. Over the last two decades, PTSD has found its way into the law enforcement field as an official diagnosis as well. Although, nearly all who make a lengthy career in law enforcement will experi- ence Post-Traumatic Stress, not all who experi- ence a traumatic event or critical incident, such as we face in law enforcement on a daily basis, will develop full-blown PTSD. Why is this? Why
do some officers develop PTSD, while others who were involved in the same incident are not nearly as impacted? Let’s first define what a critical inci- dent is. According to police psychologist, Roger Solomon , a critical incident is any situation be- yond the realm of a person’s usual experience that overwhelms his or her sense of vulnerability and/ or lack of control over the situation. In our pro- fession, we like to be in control. It’s how it’s sup- posed to be. When control is lost, it can be cause for great panic for many. It’s not in our DNA to not be in control of a given situation. In the aftermath of a traumatic critical in- cident some officers seem to move forward well, while others struggle. The ability to forge on through adversity speaks to both past engrained experiences and learned behaviors. Michael Rut- ter , MD, believes that resilience is one's ability to bounce back from a negative experience with "competent functioning". Resilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average indi- vidual and it can be learned and developed by vir-
continued on page 37
Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online