Surviving law enforcement by ProQuest

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									By Douglas Page




                                                      O
              Not all danger is
                                                                 n any shift, police officers may be expected to shoot some-
                 on the street                                   one, 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. It’s a small wonder that police officers are twice as
                                                      likely to die by their own hand than by that of an assailant.
                                                         Suicide is not the only adverse outcome to result from police work.
                                                      The pressures of law enforcement also put officers’ physical and
                                                      mental health at risk. 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.
                                                         “Policing is psychologically stressful work, filled with danger,
                                                      high demands, human misery and exposure to death,” says John
                                                      Violanti, a professor in the UB department of social and preven-
                                                      tative medicine. Violanti is himself a 23-year veteran of the New
                                                      York State Police.
                                                         Violanti hopes his work, called the Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic



26   Law Enforcement Technology   ■   February 2010   ■   www.officer.com
Occupational Police Stress (or                                            stress is associated with physiological              more likely to become ill. The body
BCOPS) study, may lead to police                                          risk factors that can lead to serious                becomes physiologically unbalanced,
department-centered interventions                                         health problems such as diabetes and                 organs are attacked, and the immune
to reduce the risk of stress-related                                      cardiovascular disease.                              system is compromised. “That’s what
disease among police. Violanti used                                          Other studies have shown that                     stress does to us,” notes Violanti.
measures of cortisol, also called the                                     when cortisol becomes dysr
								
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