Did you know that working as a police officer is ranked as the fourth most stressful profession, just behind firefighting and piloting? A police officer’s job and working in law enforcement can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also take an enormous toll. Responding to the call of duty is an honorable aspiration but remaining in your best form when you’re most needed requires insight to keep you from burning out. In our new blog series on officer burnout, we will look at how law enforcement professionals can combat stress to be at their best readiness.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to know that you are not alone when you’re feeling stressed. Everyone experiences stress, and if you turn to your fellow officer, you’ll find that many of the things that bring challenges to you are also affecting those working alongside you. Your fellow officers in law enforcement are not only your teammates, but they can also be an excellent support system. Most police officers know that camaraderie is a central tenet in most any department. Despite that, many spend too much time putting on a brave face instead of acknowledging the strain.
Being placed continuously in harm’s way exposes most officers to events that can be traumatizing and which radically alters their perception of how fragile life is. In an instant, a seemingly ordinary setting can go sideways. Most people don’t have to function in that context. And most people would fall apart when confronted with it. But officers don’t have a choice. They have to be present and deal with it. They must accomplish the goal that is worthy of the badge they hold. In yet another act of sacrifice, most officers develop the idea that being strong means that you hold on to all the associated stress. You put on a strong front so that you can protect others from some of the most damaging aspects of your job.
Concealing stress can create a pressure cooker with dire consequences. Officers must find a healthy outlet for handling stress. This could include finding communion with your fellow officers. Discussing the items that impact you the most will often make you and your fellow officers stronger. Open communication achieves this because sharing everyday experiences and challenges with your fellow officers acknowledges the stress monster in the room. Calling it out and sharing your experiences and how you’re handling it allows you to learn from each other. Once you call out the stresses and share your perspectives, it only further unites you to know that you are all fighting the same battle and finding ways to win together. No person is an island, and we overcome obstacles when we work cohesively as a team.
Additionally, it can help to ask your department if there are resources available to address officer burnout. Does your agency offer any programs or systems that check-in with officers to monitor burnout symptoms? If it’s not already happening, perhaps suggest that your department introduce stress topics as part of check-in at rollcall or shift meetings. For example, one or two people per meeting can briefly share a stressful experience and how they are working to keep the event’s pressure in check. Perhaps most importantly, if someone is acting differently or doesn’t seem to be themself, step-up. Ask them if they’re okay and ask them to share with you. The more you look out for each other, the stronger your team will be. What’s more, your community will be better served by it.
Additionally, other tools can further help reduce workloads and combat stress. For instance, documentation is a common stressor in police agencies. However, tools like a dictation app or a speech to text app that enable departments to use a police case transcription service can improve officer productivity and job satisfaction. Take, for example, Athreon. Athreon specializes in transcribing arrest case video and transcribing arrest case audio to help departments with their police transcription. So, whether it’s an interview for court or a patrol report, Athreon offers the best speech to text iPhone and speech to text Android apps that make record-keeping fast, accurate, and convenient. Contact Athreon at 800.935.0973 to learn more about solutions for law enforcement artificial intelligence and law enforcement analytics. The company’s document transcription services can significantly impact the health and welfare of your officers and your police department.